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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

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    Lay Back the Darkness

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    One Wild and Precious Life?

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    Woman much missed

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    Speak to me : Take my hand : What are you now?

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, bright 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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Lay Back the Darkness

If I’d read Edward Hirsch’s “Lay Back the Darkness” before writing my previous post, maybe I could have laid back some of my own darkness. Hirsch read the poem at Davidson a few years ago, but it didn’t speak to me then. That was well before Mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I’m a firm believer that poems open up to you when you need them, and shun you—sometimes quite rudely—when you don’t. Yesterday, watching the video of Hirsch’s talk at Davidson, I ...

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One Wild and Precious Life?

Something there is that doesn’t love a post, that sends me off to Facebook, Buzzfeed, and email, even when I know I need to write. It’s been more than two weeks since I flew home to Connecticut to visit my folks, seeing them, for the first time, living in separate quarters: Dad in his new apartment; Mom in assisted living. There was so much to take in that I didn’t even miss the basement. Dad has turned the master bedroom ...

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Woman much missed

In Thomas Hardy’s poem, “The Voice,” repetition and rhyme create a haunting echo, sounding out a persistent tugging of desire that can neither be escaped nor fulfilled: Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me, Saying that now you are not as you were When you had changed from the one who was all to me, But as at first, when our day was fair. Read this stanza once, and the earworm will burrow into your mind. ...

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Speak to me : Take my hand : What are you now?

When I FaceTimed with my mom on January 5th—her 75th birthday—she was surprisingly “good.” I put that word in quotations marks because I’m uncomfortable with the moral judgment it seems to place on the natural course of her disease. Yet that’s the word that come to mind, and she was really, pretty good: she knew it was her birthday, she said she was 75, and she asked me (un-prompted), “What’s Matt doing?” The question meant that she not only knew ...

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