In this chapter titled “Too Much Happiness”, Will and Mary Anne are reading a mystery novel called The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith. Mary Anne is enjoying the novel because Mma Makutsi, a character in the story, describes some African villages she’s been to and they remind Mary Anne of the villages she has visited herself. The family celebrates Will’s Dad’s eighty-second birthday and Mary Anne confides in Will that a friend gave her a marijuana plant to “help [her] develop an appetite” (Schwalbe 308). Their last visit to Dr. O’Reilly is on September 1 and shortly afterward Will flies to San Francisco for a series of business meetings. Will is only in San Francisco for two days before returning to see his mother whose health is deteriorating quickly. Mary Anne is angry that Will cancelled his trip and returned home. Will updates his mother’s blog to let everyone know how she is not doing so well anymore and a nurse comes in to help the family take care of Mary Anne. One night, Nancy reads the bible to Mary Anne and she and Doug tell Mary Anne everything that's been happening with her grandchildren. Will’s dad spends a lot of time with Mary Anne telling her that they have had “a grand adventure” (Schwalbe 320) together. Will spends time telling her about all the books they’ve read. Mary Anne dies at 3:15 on the morning of September 14.
In the literary work Apology by the philosopher Plato, the main character of the story, Socrates, is put on trial for his life by the people of Athens as a result of his philosophical teachings. While on trial Socrates says “The fear of death amounts to one simply being wise” (Plato 29). In the novel Will says, “When I looked at Mom in that moment, I saw not a sick person, but not quite the same Mom I’d known all my life… I’d met a slightly different person, a new person, someone quirkier and funnier” (Schwalbe 307). What do you think caused Mary Anne do become this new person? Do you think this new Mary Anne Will describes was created as a result of her fear of death making her wiser like Socrates mentions in the quote above, or was it the new perspective she had developed as a result of having cancer? Or do you think something else caused this transformation in Mary Anne?
Plato, and St George Stock. The Apology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1948. Print.
Schwalbe, Will. The End of Your Life Book Club. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Print.