[Bernard Gotfryd, in the New Yorker]
Joyce Carol Oates has a beautiful remembrance of her husband’s last week of life (and her experience of it) in the December 13 issue of The New Yorker. Unfortunately, the online version is behind a paywall, so you will need to pay or get your hands on a print issue to see it. Make the effort.
Oates’ husband, Raymond Smith, died suddenly almost three years ago while hospitalized for pneumonia. (See the brief NYT obit here.) I could quote from her article, but really, you owe it to yourself to read it in full, without preview. I’ll just say that parts of it reminded me of our experience in August during the last week of Gail’s brother Gary’s life, when he too was connected to various measuring devices and you could study his oxygen intake with each breath. Oh, and of course, we have our own memories of arriving at the emergency entrance of Princeton Medical Center, near the end of the year we lived in Princeton, first when Joel fell off a speaker he had climbed on — around the time of his first birthday — and cut his face near his eye, and second just weeks later when Gail took an elbow in her face during a summer evening volleyball game and was lucky her cheekbone wasn’t broken.
Oops. There I go again. This isn’t about me, even if it is my blog. It’s about Joyce Carol Oates. Do read her article.
It’s not every day that Gail makes the Seattle Times. Yesterday was such a day, so I am taking note. And the front page no less!
Well, okay, it was just the front page of the local section. And you had to turn to the continuation inside to find her. But she was there. See for yourself, in the online version. At a party I attended this evening, two people who had taken the trouble to turn the page came up to me to say they read about her.
The article describes our neighborhood’s newly established “snow brigade, complete with drivers and walkers willing to fetch groceries and prescriptions, shovel walks, drive homebound residents to warm shelters and even walk dogs. It’s the only organized neighborhood effort in Seattle, city officials say.”
What does this have to do with Gail? Although she didn’t initiate the brigade, she presides over the Madison Park Community Council (as president, though the article describes her as “chair”), and so the brigade is part of her bailiwick. This led the Seattle Times writer to interview, and quote, her.
Let’s hope the snow brigade sees limited duty this winter.
Richard Holbrooke died yesterday, and much is being written about him. (See for instance this short remembrance by New Yorker writer George Packer.) Of special note are what his family members say were his final words (quoted, for instance, in the close of this Washington Post piece), spoken to his surgeon as he was sedated for surgery:
You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.
I hope President Obama is listening.
[Photos from La Grenouille's online photo gallery.]
This is a repeat of a post I wrote a year ago today, except for a change in numbers. But what I wrote a year ago says it all, so why change it?
Sixty-nine years and one week ago, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese. The events of that day prompted my parents to move up their wedding, in anticipation of my father’s joining the Army. Sixty-nine years ago today they were married.
How about that?
They don’t get out a lot these days. But, as they did a year ago, they will celebrate today at La Grenouille, home of many a special meal for them.
Congratulations, Mom and Dad.