Friday, March 27, 2015

"Too soon to Say Goodbye", by Art Buchwald

I have enjoyed Art Buchwald's humorous political columns for about as long as I've been reading the daily newspaper.I have never used the cliche "I couldn't put it down" before, but that applies to this book. I literally could not stop reading.

After declining to go on dialysis due to failing kidneys, Buchwald checked into a hospice in February of 2006, with two weeks to live, three at the most. Many friends started visiting him, some, like Ethel Kennedy, on a daily basis.

But miraculously, his kidneys started to function, and when July rolled around and he still had not died, the hospice kicked him out and he went back home to Martha's Vineyard. He then wrote this book about his experience. He asked his friends and family members who had been writing eulogies to be delivered at his funeral to submit them, and they are included in this book.

Buchwald finally died the following January, after having lived a life so rich and filled with great experiences that the rest of us can only look on with envy and admiration.

There is much autobiographical material in this book, as Buchwald looks back on his life in expectation of his imminent death. A mild caveat to readers: Buchwald's actual autobiography, "Leaving Home", contains some duplication of material, but both books are well worth reading and both contain much heartfelt material about Buchwald's life growing up in foster homes. In a number of places in "Leaving Home", Buchwald says "I have never until now told this to anyone". It is obvious that writing these books was a healthy and therapeutic experience for him. RIP, Art.

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