The Sunday Magazine·The Sunday Edition

Dead Mom Talking - a Rachel Matlow documentary

Don't let the title scare you. "Dead Mom Talking" is a tender and loving tale of a mother and daughter who reconnect through the magic of radio.
Elaine and baby Rachel circa 1980

"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".
Rachel and Elaine, 2015
Rachel at Elaine's bench in Cedarvale Park
The marker on Elaine's bench
Elaine and Rachel in 1986.
Elaine cheering her little hockey player in 1988
Elaine 2013
In 2013, when she was 69, Elaine hiked the Camino de Santiago.
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.


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