A moving but frank account of the last year of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life, by her daughter, that poignantly details an often difficult relationship between a loving parent and her now-adult child.
Like all journals, this is as much a record of emotions as events. Lindbergh (Under a Wing, 1998, etc.) begins with the summer of 1999 when it was apparent that 93-year-old Anne Morrow Lindbergh, ill with pneumonia, was too frail to live in her own home in Connecticut, and needed to move to her cottage on her daughter’s Vermont farm. Around-the-clock caregivers keep her comfortable and relieve the author of much of the physical burden, but she still must contend with the slow dying of all that her mother was, and meant, an emotional weight almost as wearing in its reality and its implications. Her mother, whose great gift was her ability to use language, now seldom spoke. She read a great deal, often seemed restless, and talked of wanting to go home, but could not define, after a lifetime of living in many places, what particular home she meant. The author notes the guilt all children feel as their parents age, not because, “we have not done our best for them but because we have. We cannot keep them alive . . . there is nothing we can do about it.” As she records her reactions and her mother’s continuing decline, she also recalls her childhood, her famous father, and her relations with her siblings and her own children. But at the heart of her journal is the relationship with her mother, who so comforted her when her first son died young, and who shared her delight in writing. Despite her failing health and her retreat into almost total silence, Anne Morrow lingered until February of this year.
A wise and elegiac tribute to a mother, a writer, and a brave spirit, from a loving but clear-eyed daughter.