Rating: 4.75* of fiveThe Book Report: Old Mr. Chipping, nearing ninety and still telling his hoary old jokes from sixty years ago to the newbies at Brookfields school, spends his last few days on earth wandering among the many well-furnished rooms in his head. We see the events of his entire career as a schoolmaster, his brief, brilliant career as a husband, and his long, glorious sunset as a School Institution. As he passes through the portal made for one (bet Chips'd know the source on that one), he feels...as I hope and pray all who read this will feel on their own long night...it was good, it was good.My Review: I read this book tonight because, for far from the first time in my life to date, I learned that I lost an old, old friend: My mother's best friend, my heart-mother, finally let go of her life barely short of her 92nd birthday on January 4.I know it was only her body wearing down, because dementia had long since taken her essence from the living world. But tonight, forty-two years after I met her and began to love her, I feel she is here. And I promised her I wouldn't cry, she told me it hurt her to see me cry once a lifetime ago, but I can't not. It's for myself, for my heart growing old and curling inwards from surprisingly fresh hurt. I don't miss her, or miss her more than I did yesterday; death is a release when someone is already no longer themselves; but the days ahead number fewer than the days behind, and I can see my own end like a hill far away, instead of the comforting illusion of horizons hiding it. It's not scary. It's just...real.I am now the age she was when I met her. My memories are so real! The Pirate's Den, the junque shoppe on North Lamar, parking under the pecan tree and racing everyone to be the first to see what was new; cold, cold Bull Creek, flat hot rocks, the folds of the Balcones Escarpment and their fossil shells; laughing, crying, talking, always with a silver-bunned, trifocalled, green-eyed artist teaching the only things she knew to teach. I needed them then, I treasure them now, and there is no one else to whom these memories mean one single thing except an old guy reliving his past.She was Mr. Chips, and I listened the way those schoolboys did; now it's my turn...sic semper tyrranis, oh wait that was the assassin but that's good too, sic transit Irenaea mundi...hail and farewell, dear, now you go on home to Mother and Daddy, walk safe!