Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents by Bob Morris illuminates the emotional roller coaster Baby Boomers face as our parents decline and die. Morris’ wit and honest reflections will make you laugh and make you cry.
His memoir takes us to the Long Island home where he grew up, the hospital rooms where his mother and father spent their last days (years apart), and assorted vacation spots where Morris is routinely interrupted by parental medical emergencies that cut his trips short and play havoc with his emotions.
He is an imperfect son – snarky, self-absorbed, judgmental, and impatient. Yet, he does have a softer side, and offers good insights the reader can benefit from over the course of the book’s 177 pages. Here’s one such passage, for example:
Whenever I see people having tough times with aging parents, I tell them to try to find what they like to do and do it together. Whether it’s looking at old photos, playing Scrabble, watching classic movies, or shopping, what matters is finding some pleasure in the time.
His mother dies with her husband and two sons watching her endure an agonizing death. Morris writes about preparing for her funeral.
Of course, when you’ve never done what we’re doing, it’s all hard. What do we know? The three of us, Jeff, Dad, and me, decide that before the burial we want to have a more formal memorial service at our old family synagogue in Bay Shore, a long drive from the cemetery. And then, despite a conversation with the rabbi, who has indicated that speeches given by the immediate family aren’t standard (although he says he’s noticed that people are doing them more and more), we decide that each of us will speak. That means that although we’re exhausted and in a state of shock from Mom’s death, we have to pull ourselves together to write our speeches on the night before the funeral. How do you encapsulate the essence of a mother when you can hardly keep your eyes open?
The reason immediate family members traditionally don’t speak at a Jewish funeral – you can have an emotional breakdown in front of everyone, and that’s what Morris does. His father rambles, and becomes overwrought. His brother Jeff manages to speak with wit and equanimity.
Bob Morris joined me for a conversation about Bobby Wonderful on A Good Goodbye on FuneralRadio.com. Over the course of 22 minutes, we talk about:
- His suggestions for how Baby Boomers can face the decline and death of their aging parents
- How his family discovered palliative/comfort care
- Thoughts about his father’s failed attempt at suicide and physician aid-in-dying
- Who should get to speak at a funeral
- His website, www.MuseumOfYourParentsThings.com, which features photos of parental objects that set off emotional reactions.
Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents gets a thumbs up from The Doyenne of Death. Morris is also the author of Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with my Dad.