This is one of my favorite pictures of my mom, taken in late 2002, about 18 months before she died. She is reading Towards Evening: Reflections on Aging, Illness, and the Soul's Union With God; rather incredibly, the author is Mary Hope. Here is the publisher description: "Constantly rushed by the urgent demands of home and workplace, we often long for a season of solitude--an uninterrupted time to rest, meditate, and pray. Author Mary Hope found this time in late middle age, when she began this journal as a 'memorandum in preparation for . . . the perfect union with God.' Her entries never minimize the pain, loneliness, and fear that accompany aging, yet her vision soars beyond life's trials to God's blessings in changed circumstances."
Mom coped with adversity by prayer and by reading and learning. In this picture, she is doing all three. She probably read more books than anyone I have ever known. When I was working full-time, she came over almost every afternoon to stay with my younger daughters, Rose and Carolyn. Every week she read every book I had taken out of the library, and I have always taken out more books than I can possibly read. Our love of reading was only surpassed by our love of family.
She had an open coffin. At the wake, I placed in her hands the copy of Pride and Prejudice she had given to her bored daughter one hot summer afternoon when I was 12. Neither of my parents ever censored my reading and encouraged me at 12 to struggle with the local librarian for the right to check out adult fiction.