Fly While You Still Have Wings

And Other Lessons My Resilient Mother Taught Me
Author: Joyce Rupp

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: February 23, 2015

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Winner of a Catholic Press Association Award: Soft cover-spirituality books. (Third Place).

For thirty years, beginning with Fresh Bread in 1985, Joyce Rupp has comforted millions with such books as Praying Our Goodbyes and May I Walk You Home? For the first time, she shares the story of her own grief in the wake of her mother’s death, offering readers both a profile of her mother’s resilient spirit and a voice of compassion for their own experience of loss.  

In this heartfelt memoir about her mother Hilda’s final years, Joyce Rupp shares the lessons her mother taught her, especially to “fly while you still have wings.” As a poor farmer’s wife and the mother of eight living on rented land in Maryhill, Iowa, Hilda lived a life of hard labor and constant responsibility—from milking cows and raising chickens to keeping the farm’s financial ledger. Rupp shows how the difficulties of her mother’s early years and family life, including the loss of a twenty-three-year-old son, forged a resilience that guided her through the illnesses and losses she faced in later years. This affectionate profile of their relationship is, at the same time, an honest self-examination, as Rupp shares the ways she sometimes failed to listen to, accept, and understand her mother in her final years.

Rupp begins each chapter with a meditative poem that captures the essence of each stage in the journey. Her unfailing candor and profound faith illumine this story of a mother and daughter with a universal spirit of hope, reconciliation, and peace.

Product Details

Pages: 224

Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

ISBN: 9781933495842

Imprint: Sorin Books

  • “Her rich poetic insight never fails us.”

    “Joyce Rupp captures the anguish and self-reproach of grieving, yet her rich poetic insight never fails us. Far more than a memoir of her mother's death, this remarkable book speaks healing words through God's world of wonder: the beauty of everyday things. Robbed of one mother's presence, the heart still soars, God empowers us. We still have wings. We fly.”

    Emilie Griffin
    Author of Souls in Full Sail: A Christian Spirituality for Later Years

  • “Joyce Rupp's best book yet.”

    “Joyce Rupp’s best book yet. How many of us would like to pay tribute to our mothers by acknowledging the lessons learned from them that still guide us, and reflect on what we wished we had done in her later years and failed to do, or what we did do and wished we had not?  Joyce does this beautifully and becomes our teacher in this honest memoir.”

    Trish Herbert
    Author of Journeywell: A Guide to Quality Aging

  • “Joyce Rupp's best book ever.”

    “Joyce Rupp’s memoir of her mother Hilda is beautiful, honest, and graced with astonishing insights into what it means to be a daughter, a mother, a human being.  Her account of how this resilient woman raised eight children on an Iowa farm at first reminded me of Tim Russert’s loving memoir of his father–the stories are that good. But when I got to Joyce’s tender journey with her mother through the process of dying I could not help but think of C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed–the book is that good. When I finished reading, I put the book down and could think of nothing other than what I had just read. Fly While You Still Have Wings is Joyce Rupp’s best book ever, a total original, and I would not be surprised if it became a classic.” 

    Michael Leach
    Publisher Emeritus
    Orbis Books

  • “I loved this book!”

    “Every page of Joyce Rupp's beautiful book is filled with practical wisdom. By meditating on the rich life of her own mother, Rupp not only shares with us timeless and life-changing lessons, but also reminds us that holiness always makes its home in humanity, and that saints are everywhere. I loved this book!”

    James Martin, S.J.
    Author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage

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Additional Resources

Spirituality & Practice Book Review
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KCCI Interview
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National Catholic Reporter Article

Sr. Joyce Rupp reflects on her mother, finding wisdom and aging.

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