“If you took me down to the dining room,” Mom asked me, “do you think I could help fold the napkins?” At this point, my ninety-year-old mother was deaf, blind in one eye, and unable to get around on her own. This once energetic, lively woman wanted more than anything to be useful. Now the only active thing was her mind. My perennial glass-half-full mother was depressed; she worried about being a burden and dreaded the thought that she could possibly continue to live in this state of nothingness for years. Mom was quite ready to “close the last chapter of my wonderful life,” as she put it. She ruminated for hours on end about how sad it was that, after a full and active lifetime, there wasn’t a better system for handling this final phase. “Okay, kids, it’s up to you to figure it out,” she announced. This book began as a series of daily updates that I sent to my family during the month I spent with Mom at the end of her life. Because the nature of these e-mails could be bleak, I interspersed them with stories, photographs, and other snippets I found in Mom’s files—a treasure trove of material accumulated over her lifetime that captured her essence and enthusiasm for life. As Mom faded away physically, her spirit was very much alive, captured forever in these amazing archives of anecdotes and accolades. Green Flashes and Goombay Smashes is about both a month and a lifetime, about life, death, and sunsets. I hope that it will add to the important discussion of how we deal with end-of-life issues in this country. I hope that it will make you laugh and cry. And I hope that sharing this part of my journey may help someone else’s. That would have made Mom smile.