Sunday May 08, 2016

Dead Mom Talking - a Rachel Matlow documentary

Elaine and baby Rachel circa 1980

Elaine and baby Rachel circa 1980

Listen 14:28

"If you want to talk to me when I'm dead, go to the bench". 

Elaine Mitchell said those words to her daughter Rachel, a few days before she died last July. 

The memorial bench now sits in Toronto's Cedarvale Ravine, beside a gravel path, under tall trees. It's what Elaine wanted. A place where people she knew could come and sit, and talk to her after she was gone. 

Elaine was a teacher, writer and avid traveller. When she found out that she didn't have long to live, her daughter Rachel moved in to take care of her. A final adventure (of sorts) that they would go on together. 

During the last seven weeks of Elaine's life, they binge-watched TV…. traded dark humour….and, even as Elaine's voice began to fade, they talked.  About life, loss, and how to cope in the aftermath. 

Rachel recorded the conversations. That way, many months after her mother's death, Rachel was able to make something remarkable happen. Get in one more conversation with the person she needed most to help her through the grief. 

Rachel Matlow's documentary is called "Dead Mom Talking".

last Passover

Rachel and Elaine, 2015

Rachel and bench

Rachel at Elaine's bench in Cedarvale Park

Bench marker

The marker on Elaine's bench

by the tree

Elaine and Rachel in 1986.

Playing Hockey

Elaine cheering her little hockey player in 1988

Elaine with vino

Elaine 2013

Elaine hiking El Camino

In 2013, when she was 69, Elaine hiked the Camino de Santiago.

Park Hyatt

Elaine and Rachel liked to drink champagne on the rooftop of the Park Hyatt Hotel. Less than two months before Elaine died, they raised a glass together.