Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

A DAUGHTER’S LAST BREATH
BY JIMMY BRESLIN

Rosemary Breslin, forty-seven, died Monday from a rare blood disease. A writer who crafted scripts for “NYPD Blue” and wrote a 1997 memoir titled Not Exactly What I Had in Mind: An Incurable Love Story, Breslin was the third child of columnist Jimmy Breslin and the former Rosemary Dattolico, who died in 1981.

As it was with the mother who went before her, the last breath for the daughter was made before an onlooker with frightened eyes.

First, there were several labored breaths.

And here in the hospital room, in a sight not distorted by passion, was the mother sitting on the end of her bed, as the daughter once had sat on the mother’s in Forest Hills for a year unto death. They both were named Rosemary. When the mother’s last breath told her to go, the daughter reached in fear, but her hand could not stay the mother’s leaving.

By now, Rosemary, the younger, is married to Tony Dunne. He knew she was sick when he married her. He then went through fifteen years of hospital visits, stays, emergencies, and illness at home and all he wanted was for her to be at his side, day and night. His love does not run. And now, in the daughter’s hospital room, as it always does, fear and deep love brought forth visions of childhood.

The daughter is maybe four, sitting on the beach. She wants money for ice cream. The mother’s purse had money to pay the carpenter at day’s end. Earlier, the mother had tried to pay the carpenter by check, and he leaped away, as if the check were flaming. The daughter plunged into the purse and found no change for ice cream. With the determination that was to mark every day of her life, she went through that purse, tossing large bills, the carpenter’s money, into the air, digging for ice cream change. She sat there infuriated, throwing money into the sea wind. The mother was flying over the sand trying to retrieve it.

Another labored breath.

Then I could see her later, and with even more determination, typing a script with tubes in her arms. Writing, rewriting, using

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