Category Archives: Alison

Posts about my late mother.

Two Years Gone

Once again I pause to mark with sorrow the anniversary of the death of my mother, Alison Calder Pollack, a truly extraordinary woman who left us two years ago today. Time softens grief’s sting, but not its ache. Related content from Sphere

Happy Birthday

Today, June 4th, would have been my mother’s 72nd birthday. I thank again all of you who offered so many kind words of support during her last days, which were chronicled in these pages a little over a year ago. She was a truly exceptional woman, and we miss her terribly. Related content from Sphere

One Year Gone

I must note with sorrow the anniversary of the death of my mother, Alison Calder Pollack, who left this vale of toil and sin one year ago today. All who knew her miss her most painfully; she was a truly extraordinary woman. You can read my remembrance of her, written shortly after her death, here.

To my father, Dr. William Pollack: know that we are all thinking of you today, Dad.

Alison Remembered

This weekend we held our little farewell gathering in Oceanside, CA for my mother Alison. I’ll give a brief account for the many of you who either knew her or who, having followed the sad story of her final weeks in these pages, have written with kind words of support and sympathy.

Alison Calder Pollack,
June 4, 1935 – March 28, 2006

My mother, Alison, died in Oceanside, California on March 28th after, as they say, a brief illness. She was seventy years old.

My mother with little Nick
Alison with my son Nick, 1988

Bye, Mom

It’s over. My mother died today at 12:10 p.m. Pacific time. My father and I were on our way to the hospital; her best friend, Shirley, was at her bedside.

She had not really been conscious since late Sunday night; since yesterday afternoon she had been in a deepening coma.

It is a great relief that this awful time is over, and that her long years of pain and struggle are at an end. I will write a proper farewell to this extraordinary woman as soon as I can find the right words.

A remarkable thing happened later this afternoon.

Kind of a Hard Day

For better or for worse, this page has temporarily been taken over by my family’s crisis. I know that there are many of you who have been checking in here to see how things are going. So:

My mother is now in an unresponsive state, and is in a Cheyne-Stokes respiratory pattern. She is receiving intravenous saline, morphine to control her pain (at 5 mg/hr.), and no nutrition.

The last coherent words she exchanged with anyone were with me, as I left her room late on Sunday night. She is already gone; perhaps she will still be breathing in the morning.

The staff at Tri-City Medical Center, in Oceanside, California, and her doctors, Daniel Vicario, James Brinkman, and Chris Lewis, are nothing short of saintly. I have seen quite the opposite often enough to appreciate it.

Thank you all. Added to my list of topics to visit upon resuming normal operations here is the book “Miracles”, by C.S. Lewis.

12:09 A.M., Room 220, Ramada Inn, San Marcos, CA

I really don’t want to use this space for family updates, but these past few days I have been so completely occupied by family matters that I have had no opportunity for preparing any posts, certainly not the sort of posts I want to be writing.

When I dashed back out to California on Thursday, I had every reason to imagine that my mother would already be gone by the time I got here. However, since all involved have decided to give up on treatment and switch to palliative care, she has bounced back a bit, and although she is terribly weak and frail both physically and emotionally, she is able again to speak with us.


I may not be posting again for a day or two. The situation in California has declined very suddenly, and the end is at hand. My father and brother are with my dear mother, but she is now beginning the private part of her journey, and is already slipping beyond earthly awareness. I am flying back to be with them tomorrow.

Ah, my heart… how very sad this is.

al Coda

This is another sad day for my family. Though my mother has fought valiantly to endure a last-ditch round of chemotherapy, today she and her doctors (James Brinkman and Daniel Vicario, who have cared for her as if she were their own mother) have agreed that her battle is unwinnable, further suffering pointless, and that hospice care is what is needed. She may have a week or two.

It is proving to be difficult for me to get back to any real writing here during this difficult time. Though there is much that I want to get back to, I simply can’t focus properly right now. Dennett et al.will be dealt with in due course.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

I’m in California still, looking after my gravely ill mother, and opportunities for thinking the longish thoughts needed to generate an interesting post are scarce.

I would, however, like to take a moment to remember, on the first anniversary of his cruelly premature death, my good friend, the gifted bassist Wayne Pedzwater. Here is the post that I wrote immediately following his memorial service.

If you should see this, Patty, know that you are in my thoughts.

OK, We’re Back

First of all, thanks once again to all of you. We’re back in Brooklyn now, after a brief trip to San Diego to visit my ailing mum.

I’m going to write one more rather personal post here, before returning to the usual bloat and blather.

Thank You All

Many, many thanks to all of you who have commented and emailed with kind words of solace and comfort. I am blushing a bit – I never meant this site to tilt so far toward the private and personal, but one writes about what is in one’s thoughts, and my thoughts have been occupied by little else since hearing the bad news about my mother. I had no idea, frankly, that so many of my friends and relatives had been visiting this site. Thank you all for that as well; it’s easy to get the feeling that writing a blog, for all its world-wide visibility, is little more than shouting up a drainpipe.

I’ll write what I can in the days to come, and I’ll try to get back to the usual pretentious rubbish as soon as possible.

Thank you again.

Public Access

I’ve been rather torn about whether to write in this space about some very sad things that have been happening lately. My staid British upbringing tends to make me think that airing one’s personal sorrows in public is somehow ill-mannered, but weighing against that is my feeling that it is perfectly in keeping with the aim of this weblog to discuss universal human experiences, especially in the context of our struggle for inner growth and our wish to find meaning and harmony in our lives.

Last Friday I learned that my mother, who had been afflicted by nausea for a couple of weeks, has been diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer, and that the prognosis is very grim.