Jackie Robinson, My Father, and Me

On Sunday, May 18, 1947, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in a Major League baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. He was the starting first baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers. My father took me to that game. We had been to three other Chicago Cubs games, so I had a sense of how many people typically attended a game at Wrigley Field. When we entered the park I was amazed at how many people were already there, far more than I had ever seen at a Cubs game.

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The Lost Brother

Nearly eight years after my father’s death, I received a phone call from the nurse I had hired at the end of his life. Jen was a kind and compassionate person, and she had been at his side when he passed away. Because of her other commitments, she was unable to attend his funeral, but she had posted a condolence note to his obituary notice on Legacy.com.

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Sentimental Value

Large and heavy, my ring: four gold dolphins arcing gracefully over my finger. It’s really two rings, joined by a slender circle of sapphires, set in gold. Widow now, no longer wife, I had chosen to take my husband’s wedding ring from the chain around my neck. I’d sandwiched both rings, one on either side of my fifth anniversary sapphire ring.

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You Can Call Him Al

It was sometime during the blurry semester-to-semester haze of my sophomore year of college that I met Albert. My best friend Nick (now my husband) introduced us outside a dive bar in Ybor city or maybe Albert just hopped into Nick’s car on the way to Chipotle one night. What I do know is that once I knew Albert, he was always there, like a facial feature, permanent and recognizable and without it, you aren’t quite you.

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The Open Gate

“I know I look white,” she said, “but I have the high cheekbones of the Chippewa. I’m half white. I was adopted.”

That’s how she introduced herself as I ate breakfast at a coffeehouse in an outport near Corner Brook in western Newfoundland. Later that morning I encountered her on a guided walk in Gros Morne National Park. After the first stop, she disappeared.

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The Gift of Old Age

Somewhere in mid-life, I read Jenny Joseph’s poem, ‘Warning’, and laughed out loud.

‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple. With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.’

It’s a joyous ode to the freedom old age brings, a shrugging off of other people’s expectations. I understood it immediately.

As a young girl I just didn’t think about old people. My grandparents were the only seniors I knew. With them I was outwardly respectful but uninterested. If I thought about them at all, I might have felt pity for the limitations they lived with, physical frailty, near-invisibility, a limited future.

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My Mattress Spies on Me… and No One Cares

I knew a somnolent position of my body parts existed by which I could fall, slide, or dip into sleep, and stay there for a reasonable seven hours. But I hadn’t found it on the old mattress with its fortress of pillows buttressing my attempts to get every limb and my head comfortable at the same time. Even when occasionally, I achieved that sensation of releasing all muscular tension in my neck without burying my nose in the pillow too deeply to breathe, I failed to maintain it for more than a few moments.

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Divorce Pending

The day I heard he was leaving I was shocked. My eldest daughter’s husband of fifteen years, a forty-eight-year-old who sports a reddish beard and a ball cap, and a shiny pickup truck. Father to their only child. I had encouraged the purchase of the truck, supporting this man’s dream, when my daughter had demurred. It turned out the truck was useful.

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The Rollover

I’d never seen a Renault Dauphine before that August afternoon. I’d been basking in the sun on the painted wooden stoop of our tenement. It was close to noon and another high school summer vaca-tion day was drifting by.

Sly drove up in in the strange-looking car, it was small, low, and short and black.

“Where’d you get that?” I said, never knowing Sly to have a car or a driver’s license for that matter.

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When I picked up the telephone in the kitchen of my parents’ house that afternoon in 1975, I had no idea I’d be delivered such devastating news. A boy I was close to had been killed in a freak tractor accident the day before on the kibbutz in Israel where I had recently lived. His name was Gilles and he had come to the kibbutz with a group of young people from France. He was my good friend during the four months I had spent there, less than a year earlier. My heart broke when I heard the sombre words spoken over the telephone line. I was eighteen years old.

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