Philanthropist and environmental activist Daly writes about her spiritual search as she shared her mother's courageous 4-year battle with the ravages of pancreatic cancer.
Before her diagnosis in 2006, the author's mother, Nancy Daly—former first lady of Los Angeles during her husband Dick Riordan's eight years as mayor—was a charismatic celebrity in her own right. She was a larger-than-life figure who was chair of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and a prominent activist on behalf of abused children. In her early 60s, she was “at the top of her game…a beautiful, happy, selfless and extremely well dressed woman, busy doing exciting things.” Though her mother took the diagnosis in stride, for the author, it was terrifying. After surgery and chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission and Nancy gamely resumed her normal schedule of activities despite a regimen of medications. In 2007, the cancer metastasized, and her health deteriorated rapidly. Nonetheless, she maintained an upbeat attitude, resuming chemotherapy and palliative treatment. Daly writes of her own struggle to master her fear and pain as she faced the reality of her mother's worsening condition and the need to overcome her continued psychological dependency on her. When it became clear that the cancer was spreading throughout her body, Nancy turned to alternative medicine and a Brazilian faith healer, John of God, in hopes of a cure. In a last-ditch effort, mother and daughter traveled across the country to meet the faith healer. Nancy died peacefully in the back seat of an RV during the journey back to Los Angeles. The author, a convert to Judaism with a profound connection to nature, writes movingly of her spiritual journey as she faced the need to establish an independent identity.
A daughter's tender tribute to a remarkable mother.