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Book Club: Mom’s Marijuana, pages 229-237

family on a beach

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club!  We are reading Mom’s Marijuana by Dr. Dan Shapiro! Catch up on pages 1-20, pages 20-40pages 41-59, pages 60-80pages 80-106, pages 106-125, pages 125-148, pages 149-181, pages 181-210, and pages 210-229.

Let’s get started!

pages 229-237.

The closing pages of Dan Shapiro’s moving memoir are all about resilience, moving on and life coming full circle. As the book nears the end, Dan’s Nana is a 90-year-old woman who has lost family to the Gestapo, survived a bombing, buried a beloved husband as a young woman, and raised two children in a foreign and unfamiliar country where she did not speak the language.  Yet as Dan writes, “In her voice there’s no trace of her history.” Dan is clearly inspired by her resiliency. Maybe he learned how to bounce back and overcome from watching her or maybe it is inherited. Are some of us genetically predisposed to be resilient? Does it take a living to the ripe age of 90 to be okay with what has life’s tragedies, or is it something that happens little by little over time? For some of us will there always be a trace of our history in our voice? Do we want there to be no trace of the history?

Dan is (understandably) mesmerized by the miracle that is his daughter and their similarities. He acknowledges that she could have never existed if his mother hadn’t happened to have a conversation with a stranger in a waiting room. Dan’s love for his own daughter, a new kind of love that never existed in him before, causes Dan to recognize that this phenomenon, the love of a child, is what enabled his “anti drug-never-apologize mom” to plant marijuana in her backyard. I am not a parent myself, but I saw this feeling manifested in my own mother when I was going through treatment. She would have given anything to be able to switch places with me. The love of a parent must truly be like no other.

Dan’s final dictated note describes him as a “white male with a remote history of Hodgkin’s Disease….” Isn’t that something we all long for-to be someone with a remote history? Dan’s mother struggled for a long time with when would be the appropriate time to dispose of the marijuana stash. With multiple recurrences, she was understandably hesitant when she said season after season “Not yet. You never know. “ I know many of us struggle with this. When is the right time to have our port taken out? When can I get rid of my wig? How remote must our history be before we will feel it is the right time? I suppose this answer is different for everyone, but eventually, Mom did decide it was time to burn her marijuana.

– Jill D

In the last few pages, as he has done throughout the whole book, Shapiro does a fantastic job illustrating how he has applied all of the life lessons he has acquired thus far, to his everyday challenges that arise, but more importantly, Shapiro brings the story full circle. In the section Nana, the author explains how content with life his ninety-year-old grandmother is despite all of the horrific tragedies she has had to endure. I feel this specific story shows the readers where Shapiro draws a lot of his determination to overcome anything.

In the section Bedrock, the author realizes there are some things you can’t understand until you’ve lived them, like having a child; and it is here, out of the love for his own daughter Shapiro connects the dots and can finally understand why his “antidrug-never-apologize mother could plant a weed she despised in our backyard.”

Although having been a cancer patient and knowing that fear of relapse is always nearby, the last dictated chart note gives us a sense of optimism and hope for the author’s outcome, especially “mediastinal and side views are clear.”

In the last short story, Mom’s marijuana: Part D, Shapiro finishes the book where we started, in his mothers garden, but only this time he’s seeing his mother teach his daughter, all the loving ways to tend to a garden.

– Krystina N

The end!

Join in next Monday for an update on the online video chat discussion!

Thanks for joining us for pages 229-237 of Mom’s Marijuana by Dr. Dan Shapiro! Join in next Monday for an update on the online video chat discussion!

If you’re just joining us, here are some logistics:

The chapters and sections of this book are organized differently than in a book we’ve read together before.  So instead of going chapter by chapter, we’ll go about 20 pages at a time each Monday. We’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  Join in, in the comments every week!  At the end, we’ll have a book club discussion via video chat!  Also, there will probably be spoilers.  Read along with us!

How are you enjoying our young adult cancer book club?