Tag Archives: Stories

With a Little Help from My Friends

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends
with a little help from my friends”
— Songwriters: John Lennon/Paul McCartney

It’s the Memorial Day weekend. There are many traditions associated with this holiday. From Wikipedia, “Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The holiday is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May. It marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its unofficial end.” Continue reading

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Without Her: A Mother’s Day Lament

“The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.” — Author unknown

On this Mother’s Day I want to express my gratitude. I’m lucky. My eyes first met my mother’s over 66 years ago on the day I was born. She was the first person I ever experienced in life, whose flesh touched mine, her smell familiar, whose breasts nourished me, and whose arms held me close to her heart. I’m sure I was comforted by the sound of her soft voice and steady heartbeat that I heard while still in her womb. Every year on my birthday I felt intimately close to her. We often shared tears, tears of gratitude and joy. This year was the last one we’ll ever share together. Mom died 10 days after my birthday. This is my first Mother’s Day without her. Continue reading

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The Loud Family Loses a Loved One

We Say Goodbye to Our Matriarch

First, a little background:  In 1973 American TV audiences were introduced to a groundbreaking 12-part documentary series on PBS entitled An American Family featuring the Louds, an upper middle class family in Santa Barbara, California. This was considered the first reality TV series. Keeping with its irreverent tradition of satirizing American culture, Saturday Night Live in season four, episode six, created its own Loud family, starring Jane Curtin as Mrs. Loud, Bill Murray as Mr. Loud and their daughters, Gilda Radner and guest host, Carrie Fisher with supporting characters played by John Belushi, Dan Ayckroyd and Garrett Morris. Continue reading

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Full Moon on Christmas Day: Part II

Christmas Present and Christmas Future

“Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness.” — Cheryl Strayed

This is Part II of a personal essay on the holidays. The subject of Part I was pre-holiday musings and reminiscing about childhood Christmas celebrations past. I’m grateful to my parents for their gifts to me, most importantly their love, nurturing, and support and for the delight I experienced on Christmas morning as a child when I saw the decorated tree and gift-wrapped presents.

Part II is also recognition that things change; we experience loss in our life as we age. Loved ones leave us, others die, and some traditions are more difficult to sustain.  People move across country, move on from childhood to adulthood, and sometimes family members and loved ones create chasms too difficult to bridge. Continue reading

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Get Your Skates On!

“I want anyone who has ever said or felt that women are weak in any way to strap on a pair of skates and play two minutes of roller derby with them.”  — Emily Mills, “Hammer Abby,” Quad Squad, Mad Rollin’ Dolls

As a writer, I’m sometimes invited to participate in a collaborative project or respond to a writing prompt. The day before Mother’s Day, I had the pleasure of joining three writers for what was described as a “writing attack.” Each of us was to interpret the call-to-action in our own way. The assignment was for the blog, True Stories Well Told, managed by my reminiscence-writing coach and mentor, Sarah White, for her summer series, Season of Sports. Continue reading

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A Filmgoer’s Guide to the Best Films of 2014

“You know how everyone’s saying ‘seize the moment’? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”— The character, Nicole, from the film Boyhood.

There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. We are all different. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.” — Stephen Hawking from The Theory of Everything.

First, as a filmgoer, I want to acknowledge that 2014 has been a good year for movies.  For my filmgoing preferences, independent films rose to the top of the list of the best films of the year.  It was also difficult to limit myself to ten best films, so you’ll notice my honorable mention list is extensive. There were also a number of films that have not premiered yet in Madison, or I missed them in their limited runs.  Some of those films may have risen to the top ten. Lastly, I wanted to recognize documentaries separately from narrative films. Continue reading

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The Legacy of a Life

“Let your very existence be your song, your poem, your story.
Let your very identity be your book.
Let the way people say your name sound like the sweetest melody.”
 ― Charlotte Eriksson*

The end of the year draws close. For some of us it’s a time to take inventory, to review the past year and look ahead to the new one. For others it’s marked a passage, an ending, hopefully to be followed by a new beginning. From Wikipedia:

In ancient Roman religion and mythJanus is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus.” Continue reading

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Conversations w/My Next Girlfriend: Episode 8

Note: This is eighth in a series of imaginary conversations with my next girlfriend.

Dear Next Girlfriend,

This past weekend I returned to my hometown of Racine, Wisconsin to celebrate the wedding of my niece Jennifer and her spouse Becky. They were married earlier this summer when same sex marriage was legalized in Wisconsin. They’ve been committed, loving partners for 12 years. I wish you could have joined me; it was a wonderful event and for me an affirmation that love is love, especially when families are able to accept, support and love their LGBTQ relatives and welcome their partners unconditionally. I am grateful to be a member of that kind of family. Continue reading

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Reunions, Anniversaries, and Farewells

Some essays and remembrances are more to difficult to begin. Before the words can touch the page the thoughts and feelings in response to these life events must first be felt, then understood, and finally allowed to flow from one emotion to another, memories skipping time, moving from past to present and back again to another day, another reminiscence, some joyful, some sad, some full of gratitude, a few regrets, what ifs and why nots, mourning, tears and grief, and celebration, lots of celebration. Continue reading

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Spreadsheet Wars

Public and Private Battle It Out

During the past 10 days, news outlets and social media were abuzz with stories about Israel and the Palestine militant group, Hamas, battling it out in the Gaza Strip, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian military or rebel forces over eastern Ukraine with almost 300 innocent lives lost, a Taiwanese TransAsia airliner which crashed on Wednesday, killing 48 and injuring 10, and lastly the story of an Air Algerie jetliner with 116 people aboard that crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over northern Mali in Africa. Continue reading

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