For my mother on Mother's Day... "Nobody sees you like your mother. To be seen by your mother is to be known…before you and after, the you that is transparent and opaque… the you who runs away and toward and both at the same time because you are always looking for a home... from "When I'm Sixty-four"
Miscellaneous info on publishing, editing, news etc....
Angela von der Lippe has had a longstanding career in publishing, first at Birkhauser (& Suhrkamp) Boston, then at Harvard University Press and later at W.W. Norton where she edited an occasional literary novel and book of poems, but principally non-fiction, often on science and behavior. Her authors over the years have included Jerome Bruner, Carol Gilligan, Jerry Kagan, Alan Lightman, Adam Phillips, Elisabeth Young Bruehl, Brian Greene, Eric Kandel, Robin Morgan, Neil de Grasse Tyson, Peter Galison, Sam Harris, Judith Martin, Terry Deacon, Frans de Waal and Elaine Scarry.
She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in Creative Writing and Philosophy and a Ph.D. from Brown University in German Literature and Language. And she is a member of PEN America and a dual citizen of the U.S and Ireland.
She has lectured and given readings widely, and participated in numerous publishing panels and writing workshops.
Inquiries into availability for talks and workshops, etc. can be made through this website.
DARWIN * March 2003 - May 3, 2014 * R.I.P
Our dear, sweet, wise Darwin dog with the mandarin eyes who gave us such joy and unconditional licks for eleven years has now passed on to the great Hunt in the beyond, where I'm sure he'll be chasing rabbits in my dreams. (I'm sure it never meant much for our relationship, but he did inspire the next novel!) Needless to say, we are devastated and little Ras, his brother, is very quiet....'Held my Darwin in my arms til the very end. Hold him in my heart for my earthly run.
xo, May 4, 2014
EULOGY for MOM * December 1918 - May 2015 * R.I.P
Though she has left this world, our mother was very much of this world. She loved living and throughout her life she was blessed with good health, good genes and good luck (and all modesty aside, a good family.)—Like Twain, she thought age was basically a problem of mind over matter—what you don’t mind, doesn’t matter. And so she didn’t think much of her own aging until a few years ago when her body began not cooperating with that willful determined mind of hers.
“Oh Mary, when you hit 89, it’s all downhill from there—this nineties thing is for the birds.” And when I would tell her ‘she was a tough old bird,’ she shot back… “Yeh, but this bird sure can’t fly.” And when I tried to lift her up with another miracle pill that improved appetite, set her internal waking/sleeping clock straight, and “get this, Ma, ‘It’s supposed to make you happy," she gave me a look of ‘how can such a smart girl be so gullible?’ and she said: "But Mary, just look at me. ‘Why be happy?" She shook off all efforts to sugarcoat reality about aging and its ultimate endpoint. And I can still see that arched brow and hear her warning: "Just you wait and see,” she’d say, “When you hear a giggle in the distance, Mary, you’ll know where it’s coming from.”
She was a woman of grace and thankfully she was allowed to die gracefully. Just closed her eyes and tried to fold her hands in a comfortable, seemingly prayerful pose… Though I had seen her almost on a daily basis for the last two years and over the last three months maybe spent two of them camped out on an air mattress in her assisted living studio, I really saw her strength and her will and character at the end.
Ma did her best to keep her wits about her. She liked being the matriarch, being in control, and these last months in hospice as she became weaker, she defied anybody, professional or family member alike, to predict her ending. She would clearly choose her own time. So as she held on for dear life, she also seemed to be holding out for something. Was it the anniversary of her husband’s death in Jan. or Valentine’s Day in Feb? Was it our birthdays in April or Mother’s Day in May? No, my mother was always forward looking (and we were, after all, History). No--she was waiting for something entirely new to happen.
I arrived early last Tuesday morning (my brother already there at her side) eager to share the news. She was still aware, enough for her to connect to an enlarged I-pad image of a new great granddaughter, Nora T. Harrington, born the night before. I spoke very loudly to her, "a new daughter, ma, a new great granddaughter," and she looked at me and the picture and then up at me again, as if to say ‘Really?’ Just a few hours later she slipped from semi-conscious to unconscious. Maybe her work was done.
My husband recalled the lines from the Laura Nyro song.
‘And when I die and when I’m gone, there’ll be one child born and a world to carry on.’
Grieving will be difficult for all of us, as letting go was, but I think we need to remember that she died on a high note—Her soul departed, when another was born. It’s part of life’s cycle, she would say. Look forward.
A little over a week ago when I lay down on that air mattress for our last ‘girls’ night together’, occasionally hearing a cooing moan, I sensed her death was imminent and began thinking about what makes mothers special and ours in particular. I got up and wrote these words:
"...I’m somehow buoyed by a visceral sense that the (her) body is finally dying, diminishing to nothing, about to let her go, rendering her weightless, spilling into the moment of now and us, one last stroke of the heart, the brain closing out the light and the flesh is delivered back to the earth, the wind, and the water, firing off a spirit lighter than all the elements, soulful and more vital than the air we breathe.
… Nobody sees you like your mother. To be seen by your mother is to be known…before you and after, the you that is transparent and opaque… the you who runs away and toward and both at the same time because you are always looking for a home, even if it isn’t the one you were born into, -- And even when you might be running away from her in frustration or rage, you are always running toward a her you want her to be. You—ever calling out her name, hoping she will come, wanting to be found, saved…coddled into her heart. Where all the tears will be dried, life’s hurts kissed away, and the fears of dying folded into a dream come true: a living end.”* (from forthcoming memoir)
Apropos of a living end, our deep gratitude goes to those who made ‘a living end’ possible for mom--her personal caregiver of the last year and a half, Joy, her night aide of the last months Christy, and the true angels of hospice, Eileen, Cathy and Julie. Their importance cannot be overstated.
MOM, may you REST in PEACE
THE AFTERLIFE OF WORDS * February, 2016
Came across a translation of one of Rilke's poems 'Liebeslied' on the web-- that rang famiiar and indeed it was my own. Taken from the memoir YOU ALONE ARE REAL TO ME. Very mixed feelings about anyone simply taking work without attribution (thoughtless at best and theft at worst), but hopeful that the sentiment of this poem has actually touched some readers and imbued them with the author Rilke's original intent--to fathom that singular transformative mystery. The magic of how two independent beings actually become one in love.
Here it is with my blessing: