Madeline's Journey

My mother, Madeline Lamb, was so many things to so many people, but, universally, everyone who knew her would describe her as radiant and brilliant — a woman with boundless compassion and a wicked sense of humor.


Up until Friday, April 20, 2012, she was practicing law full-time and still partying like a rock star at age 71. A brain tumor created a detour in Madeline's life — a final detour that she took with her family and friends by her side.


She approached it with her usual aplomb and grace — from dancing with the nurse's aide who looked like Denzel Washington to coming up with a list of "brain tumor humor."  She fought like crazy to eke every moment out of life.


Every moment on her eight-day journey was chronicled on CaringBridge, a nonprofit website that connects friends and families in times of health crises. Below is a sampling of the CaringBridge posts, which served as the basis for The Living Room.


July 8, 2014

Madeline Hartsell Lamb 12/26/40-7/8/12, on the second anniversary of your death, I prefer to remember you like this--no makeup, just a beautiful smile. Your brain tumor didn't take away your beauty, it only allowed it to shine through even brighter, shine th...

June 26, 2014

Okay, it is going to sound corny, but I really felt my mother's presence last night at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh as I officially launched my new book, "The Living Room." Not only did I have a great crowd of engaged listeners from friends, to family to readers, but t...

May 31, 2014

I have been fortunate enough to work for a company that celebrate's its employees outside projects. We have writers, musicians, artists, you name it, working in television news. Generally, I have found that creative people don't just have one creative outlet, but inste...

May 23, 2014

The more I talk about my new book, the more I realize that it is a conversation starter. The conversation is about end-of-life issues. Where do I want to be if I become sick? Who will take care of me? Who will handle my business, my bills, my life? These are all questi...

May 20, 2014

As I reflect on  the journey with my mother chronicled in "The Living Room," I recall everything she taught me--not jut in those eighty days, but throughout my forty-six years. I am going to share part of that list over the next few weeks. They are words that come back...

May 14, 2014

There's a moment in every author's life when he or she sees his or her book on the shelf for the very first time. I remember seeing "Smotherhood" on the shelf in the Barnes and Noble in Cary back in 2007. It was my first book. I started crying right there in the parent...

July 6, 2012

I lay on the floor next to my mother's bed last night listening to her breathing, counting the breaths. One, two, three, pause.


I was listening for a change, a sign that she needed me. Several times I jumped up to check on her and then fell back into a light slumber lu...

June 16, 2012

I ran across a quote in a book I am reading by author Gillian Flynn that reminds me so much of my mother: "She of the rocket science brain and the rodeo spirit."


It is this dichotomy that I believe made my mother so engaging to so many people. There's no doubt that she...

June 3, 2012

"I don't want to eat at the table tonight," my mother said to me.


"Why?" I asked. "Is it because you're so tired?"


"No, because I'm tired of pretending?" she replied.


"Pretending what?"


"That everything is normal."


I, for one, don't think that I am pretending everythin...

May 16, 2012

Today, I deleted my mother's phone numbers in my Bluetooth display in my car. Every time I pulled up my "Quick Dial" list, it was a painful reminder that I used to call my mother multiple times a week, sometimes multiple times in one day. Part of me still has a fantasy...

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