I am a big fan of Roger Rosenblatt and love his latest book, Making Toast. Roger chronicles the events that occurred after his 38-year-old daughter Amy Solomon, wife and mother of three young children, aged 6, 3 and 1, died from an asymptomatic heart condition.
Both Amy and her husband Harris were medical doctors but Amy had scaled back her practice to be with their three children in their early years. Roger and his wife, Ginny, made the decision to leave their home in Quogue, Long Island to live with Harris and the children in Bethesda, Maryland. Roger’s poignant tales of caring for these small children and taking over the duties of chauffeur, laundress, housekeeper and making toast in the morning reveals the character of Roger and Ginny who are suffering the loss as much as Harris and the children.
I was introduced to Roger Rosenblatt a few years ago as my Book Club chose his book Lapham Rising to discuss. Then, in the summer of 2008, I spent a week at Chautauqua Institution during which Roger was the main speaker at the Amphitheater in a form entitled Roger Rosenblatt and Friends. Each day of that week, Roger dialogued with a different friend in front of his audience. The friends included Amy Tan, Joyce Carol Oates, E. L. Doctorow, Poet Laureate Billy Collins and Cartoonist Gary Trudeau. I was able to meet Roger at the Alumni Hall and had my picture taken with him, which I treasure. We were not aware that summer that his daughter Amy’s death had occurred in the previous December, seven months earlier.
This summer, in 2010, Roger Rosenblatt will return to Chautauqua with more friends. This time, his friends include Jim Lehrer and Alan Alda. It is interesting that in writing Making Toast, he references these very close friends and neighbors of his and also mentions Billy Collins, Gary Trudeau and E. L. Doctorow in the book.
It is very easy to fall in love with Roger Rosenblatt as he recounts the struggle that he and his wife Ginny have to try to normalize the lives of their grandchildren while everyone is missing Amy terribly. The children call Roger “boppo,” and the children’s friends as well as their teachers unthinkingly learn to do the same.
The loss of a child is said to be the most difficult event in a parent’s life. The hurt never ends. Roger and Ginny selflessly set aside their own grief to help their grandchildren rebuild their lives without their mother. Roger talks about their days together without complaint and with some humor. They speak about Amy a lot and encourage the children to do the same.
Read Making Toast. You will love this book as I did. I look forward to seeing Roger Rosenblatt again this summer and hope to converse with him also.