Aging

Encounters at Death’s Door

January 13, 2013

I entered the room of a dying woman, my father’s widow, living her final days under hospice care. Her eyes searched through the dim light, settling on my face for a moment then fixing on something, what I couldn’t tell. The proverbial distant shore drawing closer? Or the landscape of a drug-induced waking dream? After […]

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Back in Time, Virtually

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December 20, 2012

Can you feel nostalgic about something you don’t remember? There’s surely a clever word for the feeling, but I can’t find it. I’m pondering this, precisely 62 years and 68 minutes after my birth, because I stumbled upon the address of my first home. Thanks to Google Street View, I’ve can see the apartment building […]

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If only I could remember the first time a song created a scene so vivid that I suddenly found myself in an unknown place populated with unknown people. “Norwegian Wood” may hold the honor. The song debuted in December 1965 with the release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album. I turned 15 that month and […]

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Fresh-Baked Memories

November 5, 2012

Maybe the day will return when milk is delivered to the front door and the doctor makes house calls. I’m old enough to remember when both happened, though my children would doubt such a world ever existed. Oddly, the more distinct memory is milk. The chiming rattle of bottles in the milk man’s crate, the […]

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Inner Child

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October 9, 2012

It’s been a long time since a work of art has lodged in my thoughts as securely as this sculpture carved from a tree born in the time and place of Napoleon. And I’ve only seen photographs of Guiseppe Penone‘s Cedro di Versailles, or Versailles Cedar, a daunting carving that reveals the sapling the tree […]

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Whispered Challenge

April 4, 2012

When my late father retired, he began an emotional quest: to learn as much as he could about the father he never knew. His father walked out never to return when Dad wasn’t yet a month old. The year was 1928. My grandmother, twenty-one at the time, was a newspaper reporter as was the husband […]

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Patina of Memories

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March 25, 2012

If only I could take back the mouse clicks. The ones that showed how much had changed in the once out-of-way neighborhood in Nashua, New Hampshire, home of my early childhood. I haven’t been back since moving to Florida in 1959. It was spring. I was in the third grade. Then this week while researching […]

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Beatles and Blasphemy

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March 11, 2012

It’s funny what you remember decades after a memorable news event. Consider the intense controversy over John Lennon’s claim in 1966 that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. Futility Closet sent me back to that time with one its “miscellany of compendius amusements.” Christian groups from Southern Baptists to the Vatican went nuts, […]

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Still on the Line

March 2, 2012

Can a song “exist in a world of its own – not just timeless but ultimately outside of modern music”? One of the rare songs that does, the BBC says, is “Wichita Lineman.” I heard the song today for the first time in years and surely felt the same way I did when Glen Campbell‘s […]

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Spit Points the Way

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January 31, 2012

When we were kids, my brothers and I spit a lot. Our spitting styles varied in volume, range, and sound but had the same goal: create tough-guy facades. In those days of grappling with budding masculinity, I could not have foreseen that the spit I sent flying so often would mean so much now. Saliva […]

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Dream World Reunion

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January 25, 2012

Thankfully no one can see our dreams. In these impenetrable realms we have no choice but to watch bizarre and disjointed narratives starring ourselves in roles not of our choosing. Like everyone I suppose, I want to attach meaning to my dreams. But aren’t they random shards of memory reassembled into stories that never were […]

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Awaiting Destiny’s Test

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November 12, 2011

For decades a thought arrived often and too pushy to ignore: I had a purpose in life not of my choosing. Without warning I would have an instant to save a stranger’s life. The chance was destiny. Imagined scenarios would flash past, chief among them rescuing a drowning child. Maybe the idea emerged from a […]

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Death and the Triple Wow

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November 7, 2011

Leave it to Steve Jobs to depart this world with words of wonder. In another context his last utterance would have been overused slang, a reflexive expression lacking meaning. Oh wow. Not so with Jobs as he slipped slowly toward death. Immediately after gazing at his family and then staring past them, he said: OH […]

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