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    Momento Mori, or Motherless Me

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    In Memoriam: Valerie Jean Gates Wintsch

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    This Hour Her Vigil

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    Of Mere Being

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    You Don’t Get What You Pay For

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    Sending Kids to College for the First Time

  • Mary Cassatt. "Nurse Reading to a Little Girl." 1895. Pastel.

    Favorite books for summertime reading

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    “There’s no friend like a sister”

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    Break a Leg

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    Microaggressions and the Need to Know More

Momento Mori, or Motherless Me

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here,” because you are proceeding through the gates of shameless, narcissistic navel gazing. My mommy has died, leaving me motherless, which seems like good justification for ruminating, even if there’s little reward in it for you, my hapless reader. I spent the long weekend in Connecticut for Mom’s Memorial Service, which was lovely. I wish she could have been there to enjoy it! Friends and family gathered from as near as the choir loft ...

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In Memoriam: Valerie Jean Gates Wintsch

Valerie J. Wintsch, 75, died peacefully on January 2, 2015, at Arden Courts in Hamden, CT, from complications of Alzheimer’s. A vivacious, well read, and intellectually curious lady, Valerie loved good books, music, friendship, and laughter. Most of all, she loved her family. She was a devoted daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother. Born in Naugatuck, CT, in 1939, Valerie was the daughter of teacher Dorothy Moses and chemical engineer Charles Gates. She grew up in Elmira, Ontario, a tight-knit community ...

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This Hour Her Vigil

The Christmas ornaments, decorations, and lights are packed away, a New Year’s Day ritual that is tedious but satisfying. This year, my sense of accomplishment is troubled by a nagging sense of something unfinished, something demanding my attention. But the task before me is not mine to complete: it is my mother’s. She is dying. We are merely keeping vigil. Her Alzheimer’s has run a rapid course since her diagnosis 3 years ago. Nevertheless, this last stretch has caught us ...

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Of Mere Being

I’ve just returned from a much anticipated, much dreaded three-day sojourn in Connecticut, where I saw Mom for the first time in her new living quarters, an extended care facility called Arden Courts. My family had given me a pretty clear picture of what to expect, but they couldn’t prepare me for the emotional wallop of seeing her, dozing in the common room, wheelchair-bound, listing to the side, head tilted back, arms stiff, legs atrophied, feet puffy in her unused shoes. ...

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You Don’t Get What You Pay For

One thing we’ve learned about Alzheimer’s care is that you don’t get what you pay for. Quality of care doesn’t correlate to cost of care. For instance, my Mom was getting excellent care in the assisted living wing of the retirement village she lived in, a few buildings away from my Dad’s apartment. The facilities were lovely: she had a spacious, private room with an elegant seating area composed of Aunt Opal’s Queen Anne furniture. The staff was friendly and ...

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Sending Kids to College for the First Time

We  just moved one of our twin sons to Washington University in St. Louis, one time zone away. In two weeks, we’ll help set up his brother at Stanford University, three time zones away. I’m thrilled for our sons, nervous about the challenges ahead, and excited about the marvelous opportunities that lie before them.  Distracting myself with organizational tasks and preparations, I’ve managed to avoid being maudlin, morose, sentimental, and weepy (most of the time). Letting Luke go was harder ...

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Favorite books for summertime reading

It’s summertime, so my blog productivity has slowed as the thermometer inches into the 90s. Davidson College asked for Summertime Reading Picks, and since I managed to come up with a few, I thought I’d post them here to generate the specter of activity. But don’t be confused by Cassatt’s lovely pastel drawing (left): the books recommended here are not suitable for reading aloud to small children! Irene Nemirovksy, Suite Francaise. A historical novel that was interrupted by history, Suite Francaise ...

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“There’s no friend like a sister”

So my last post is a downer, and I want a quick rebuttal, so that you know I do have “a right to smile” and a lot to smile about. Writing this blog is really cathartic for me. Emotions percolate deep below my conscious thought, often manifesting in anxiety about teaching. But when I write about them, I discover their true source and literally come to terms with them, feeling calmer and more accepting in the process. So when people ...

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Break a Leg

As I said on Facebook, my folks can’t seem to get a break—well, they got one, but not the kind we wanted. A couple of weeks ago, Mom fell and broke her femur, near the hip joint. She may have had a second fall, but we don’t know the details. A caregiver found her, and my Dad spent another day in ER, while they took x-rays and CT-scans, eventually coming to the conclusion that she would need surgery. After surgery, she ...

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Microaggressions and the Need to Know More

Microaggressions are in the news, nationally and locally. In a recent New York Times piece, “Students See Many Slights as Racial ‘Microaggressions,’” Tanzina Vega describes microaggressions as “the subtle ways that racial, ethnic, gender and other stereotypes can play out painfully in an increasingly diverse culture.” The concept isn’t new. It was developed in the 1970s by Dr. Chester M. Pierce, a professor of education and psychiatry at Harvard University, to describe the “subtle, cumulative miniassault that is the substance of today’s ...

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