Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hold Your Tongue

Malena Eljumaily
I've learned to be more careful with my words.
     This past April, I saw my husband fretting and stressing over taxes.  I warned him, "You need to relax or you'll have a stroke." 
     Of course, I was exaggerating, but a week later he had a stroke.  The doctor said it had nothing to do with stress and taxes.  I wonder.  He's made a complete recovery and life is back to normal now.
     Today, stepping over piles of junk and toys, I wanted to ask my son, "Would it kill you to clean your room?"  But I held my tongue.

Albert J. Rothman
We were lovers. I was 70, she was 53. We celebrated my 70th birthday, but for the fun of it we labeled it my second sixtieth birthday. At the party a friend gave me a  gift, a clock that runs backward.
     One day, she said,  “You’re too old for me,” and she left.
     Strangely, the clock had magical powers. Each week I became a year younger. Finally my age regressed to 40 and remained stable.
     By chance we met and became lovers again.  Later I told her I wanted my freedom.
   “Why?” she asked.
   “Because you’re too old for me.”

That's Depressing

It was 1932 during the Great Depression. I, a nine-year old, was shocked to read 

in the newspaper that mother had filed for divorce. In 1933 my father died. I 
was outraged to hear mother calling herself a widow.
     "Liar! Cheater!" I raged, silently. "You're not entitled! You were divorced!"
     Years later, after her death, I mentioned to her sister the scorn I felt that mother, 

a divorcee, adopted the socially preferable label of widow.
     "Oh, my dear," said Aunt Helen. "Your mother was never divorced. She filed 

but couldn't pay the fee. The Depression, you know."

Phil Jerome 
The Depression was far more depressing than our current downturn. Then, I lived 
on my grandparent’s horse ranch. Grandfather conducted business by a “handshake” 
and when the depression hit, a lot of “handshakes” failed to pay up. He lost the ranch.
     He was too old by the 1930s to earn his living by the “sweat of his brow” and
employers had their choice of applicants for the jobs he could do. They hired younger,
stronger men. Grandfather had to face the fact: age, economic times, and 

industrialization had erased his work qualifications.
     Time on his hands, he went for a walk and was struck and killed by a car. It 

cost fifty borrowed dollars to bury him and my grandmother paid it back at 
fifty cents a week.

Race Relations

Jeanne Jusaltis

Crashing Asilomar waves broke on wet sand, spraying us with cool sea air. We huddled in the dunes, four white kids, four black. Strangers, all of us, wanting to reach out but not sure how.
      Interrupting, a large black hand touched my elbow and a deep voice asked, “So why do you think that the Negroes in your school stay to themselves?”
      A serious black boy answered, “Because they’re scared.”
      A nervous white boy said, “But so are we!”
      What a revelation for me. Dr. Martin Luther King had taken us to a place where we could connect.                                                                                                          


Grand Entrance 

Lenore Hirsch

In 1970 I flew to Chicago for graduate school, carrying many suitcases and carry-on items. The crew helped me board.
     On arrival, a smartly dressed African-American man helped carry my things. He offered me a ride to the university in his chauffeured car. By the time we arrived at the residential hotel, I knew he was Mayor Hatcher from Gary, Indiana, the country’s first black mayor.  He carried my bags inside and departed.
     The woman at the desk, eyes bulging, asked, “Was that him?” and I became the white girl brought to school by the local hero.


Heart Felt

Cerrissa MacNichols
“The fetus’ heart has stopped beating” the young internist told us at my 18-week prenatal ultrasound. Three days later I delivered Peter, our four-inch, six-ounce baby. My husband held me thru the dark eternity of night, as my sobs echoed out from our bedroom into the empty nursery.

Had my unborn child’s umbilical cord been perfect, I might never have experienced the love of my third son, Mattias. We might have stopped having children after two boys. The pain of losing my first was devastating but the thought of never knowing my youngest son is almost unbearable.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 2009
Christina Julian
We entered the room. I walked, Cari-Anne wiggled. As a therapy pooch it was her most treasured asset, it’s how she landed the job. Our pint-sized patient was swaddled in a Hello Kitty blanket. Our “cuddle therapy” would have to be gentler today as the little one just had surgery on her virgin heart. Cari-Anne was impervious to the smells, IV tubes and monitors. Her mom and I were not. In a few minutes my dog did what medicine and surgery could not – mend a broken heart.