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Posted May 3, 2015

Book: Fly While You Still Have Wings: and other lessons my resilient mother taught me
Author: Joyce Rupp
Sorin Books. Notre Dame, IN. 2015. Pp 203

An excerpt from the jacket:

For thirty years, Joyce Rupp has comforted millions with such books as Praying Our Goodbyes and May I Walk You Home. In Fly While You Still Have Wings, she shares the story of her own grief, offering readers both a profile of her mother's resilient spirit and a voice of compassion for their own experience of loss.

Joyce Rupp's mother lived a life filled with hard labor and constant responsibility. Rupp shows how the difficulties of her mother's early years and family life, including the unexpected death of a twenty-three-year-old son, forged a resilience that guided Hilda Wilberding Rupp through the illnesses and losses she faced later on. This affectionate profile of their relationship is at the same time an honest self-examination, as Rupp shares the ways she sometimes failed to listen to, accept, and understand her mother in her final years. Rupp's gentle candor and profound faith illumine this story of a particular mother and daughter with a universal spirit of hope, reconciliation, and peace.

An excerpt from the book:

When we were young children Mom kept us busy with tasks and chores of all sorts in the summer months. She enticed us to do them by holding out the reward of future fun, like going to the local outdoor theater or a trip to Lake Okoboji for the carnival rides.

Relatives and friends enjoyed Mom and knew she liked to have a good time. This continued as she grew older. She wasn't about to sit around and stagnate. Gail Godwin's description in The Finishing School reminds me of the vibrancy in my mother's spirit:

Death is not the enemy. Age is not the enemy. These things are inevitable. They happen to everybody. But what we ought to fear is the kind of death that happens in life. It can happen at any time you're going along, and then, at some point, you congeal. You know, like jelly. You're not fluid any more. You solidify at a certain point and from then on your life is doomed to be a repetition of what you have done before. That's the enemy. There are two kinds of people walking around on this earth. One kind you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congeal into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing. With these people you can never say X stops here, or now I know all there is to know about Y.

Table of contents:

1. The birth of resilience
2. Facing hardships
3. The shadow side
4. The bathtub question
5. Fly while you still have wings
6. Firm foundation on faith
7. The best of friends I ever had
8. When a new disability arrives
9. Clipped wings
10. The gift of the sun porch
11. A book of regrets
Epilogue: turning toward the morning