I received an encouraging and sympathetic email recently from the woman who forms the character basis for “Mrs. Hall-Surrey” – and had laughed aloud when she first “spotted” herself (and her husband) on the pages in Frontiers. (“The little so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!”) I wrote her back that I was relieved I had essentially finished Distances before my uncle’s death and my Mom’s terminal cancer diagnosis. Had I not, I don’t know I would have been able to summon up the mental strength to have done so anytime soon.
Naturally I don’t want to give away too much of the storyline. However, as I’d written here a couple of weeks ago, some of what’s in it is shockingly prescient and unexpectedly relevant to where I find myself in my life right now. Frankly, I can’t believe the number of similar touchpoints.
With publication just days away, time again for the dedication.
Recently on About.me, a man who identified himself as a “ghostwriter” viewed my profile. I’m not in need of one of those. Nevertheless, it prompted me to think on what “ghostwriting” means in terms of you as “the author.”
“Ghostwriters” have always been around, of course. Bookstores and Amazon are awash with books written by someone other than “the author.” And we as readers don’t seem to mind.
Her death was, insofar as we could tell, peaceful. She had deteriorated rapidly in recent days, and we were sensing the end was approaching. It came mid-afternoon: I was messing around on my iPad, sitting at the kitchen table feet away from her (her hospital bed had been set up in the dining room), and my Dad was in a chair next to her watching television. We had thought she was sleeping…. then we realized she wasn’t moving at all….
My dying mother lies in a hospital bed set up in the (former) dining room. We have no idea how long she has left, but it won’t be long. We’ve made her as comfortable as we can.
There is nothing to do now but wait. We take turns at her side – my father, my wife, and I. (My sister *tries* to help, but she’s, well, f-cking hopeless on a variety of levels I can’t even start to begin to detail here. So there’s sometimes another tension that no one needs right now.) My wife has to return to England in a couple of days, but she will fly back here in a week or so. (We were supposed to go home together, but I’m staying here in the U.S. until my mother passes. My father needs me.)
A hospice nurse comes in every other day or so. To escape the drone of the oxygen machine that rumbles constantly in the house, when I get a break from my Mom I retreat to the guest room where we’re sleeping and stick in headphones. Besides reading the net, about the only escape I’ve got is tinkering now and then with the 99.9 percent finished Distances.
While sitting here in Pennsylvania, going back and forth to the hospital, trying somehow to deal with my mother’s deteriorating condition, we received another devastating blow: my uncle (my mother’s older brother), the novelist, died yesterday in Rhode Island.
He was 75. He was also my godfather. (Although, as I learned only in my early twenties, organized religion was not exactly his thing.) He had been in declining health for some time, yet somehow also seemed “indestructible.” His end came quickly and unexpectedly.
Hello! Made it! Woke up in the dark here in the Catskills – still feeling on U.K. time.
Just had a coffee in my favorite mug, which sat in the cupboard waiting all these months….
“I cannot live without books.” That is an actual Thomas Jefferson quote. Yes, a real one.
We flew into Newark airport yesterday afternoon.
Boarding at Heathrow, in our row sat – of all things – a 60ish Australian lawyer who’d been to the Australia dismantlement of England at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday night. He was heading to New York, he’d said, because Australia wasn’t playing again for a while. He had decided to “hop over” to the U.S. for a week before flying back to England for the next match.
It’s interesting, and pleasing, when an “old” post suddenly re-attracts attention briefly – usually thanks to visitors coming in via searches such as Google.
You may not really know why they have exactly. However, that renewed attention may lead you to wonder if it could use a “repost.” Those work best, really, if the original was not “timely” and based on some particularly current issue, and especially if newer followers may have missed it the first time.
So why not? I posted this lighthearted piece back on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Now, as for today, October 2, 2015, have a good Friday…. wherever you are in the world. :-)
As with most such lists, some observations – even if trite – should ring a bell:
4. You can spot Americans in France from a mile away. They’re wearing a t-shirt, and probably speaking English loudly, as if the reason they’re not being understood isn’t the language barrier but that they’ve yet to make themselves sufficiently audible. Also, they’re likely smiling. Who does that?
It’s Saturday, so whether you are American, or not, let’s, uh, risk a smile.
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Reading that paragraph, Woody Allen films immediately jump to mind; but noting Americans’ distinctive national attire while traveling abroad is not all that new. That said, another giveaway, on men over “age 55,” is they are wearing white sneakers, blue jeans, and a baseball cap (sometimes with the name of a…