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Shopping with Mama

A passion for writing seemed to be their only common ground.

That, and something neither mother nor daughter had control over: blood. Would these connections be enough to bridge the stubborn divide between 1930s southern gentility and the flower-power liberality of the ’60s?

Writing was a way of life in the Webb household. Both parents wrote for a living: Marion’s father, Mack, a newspaperman; her mother, Mena, a novelist, biographer, and local historian. To live by your wits and the powers of your imagination, then put it into print to tell a story, was considered a brave act and an adventure.

Every Thursday afternoon in the last decade of her mother’s life, Marion takes her mother “shopping” and then comes home to write about it.

Soon endless doctor appointments become the norm, and Marion evolves into her mother’s caregiver and counselor, helping her navigate the endless indignities of aging and approaching death. Meanwhile, Mena still tries to get her daughter to “fix her hair” and teach her the right way to look, think, and behave in the years she has left.

Shopping with Mama: Write ’til the End is Marion’s homage to her mother, Wilhelmena Katherine Fuller Webb, whose life spanned a century in the South, and to their complicated, fractious, and funny relationship. It is her testimony, too, that the perspective and distance writing can provide in anyone’s life can renew and revive that life and preserve at least a contrail of that which has forever been lost. In this case, her mother.

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Also by Marion: Two Dates a Week.