Obituary for Three Wives

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They said we'd look back on our tears and laugh. They never told us that someday we'd look back on our laughter and cry.

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Tormenta!

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We have a romanticized anticipation in our mind’s eye of how we want things to unfold. But something as simple – or savage – as weather can wrench us back to the real. 

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Generations

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Say what you will about the foibles of Facebook, but this deft slice of the Internet has connected me with people I had lost track of for years, as well as introducing me to some others I wouldn’t otherwise have met.

It’s this never-before-seen time shifting that demonstrates the Third Law of  sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I experienced that magic last week.

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To Poem

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This summer I've hosted in my Cape Cod bed-and-breakfast numerous couples and solo travelers of all ages and from all walks of life. As the tourist season ends, I consider these people who have enriched me, and I contemplate my role as a widower of a fifty-year marriage and as an aging man. 

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Where Birds Fly Below

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Once upon a time my wife and I built a dream house that touches the sky. Casa Cascadas is so high above the Caribbean island of Vieques that after a night’s dreaming I can lean back against the pillows and watch morning birds fly below.

But in this life there are no happily-ever-afters. Dreams end and we wake to a new day. As a widower for more than a year, I’ve come to realize that two homes are too much.

So Casa Cascadas, my House of Waterfalls, is on the market. It’s time for her to fulfill someone else’s dream.

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Shout

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When I was growing up in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, we moved frequently from rental to rental—my father always on the lookout for a better apartment (and to stay a step ahead of the bill collectors). The place with happiest memories for me was a low-income, Lefrak City-like complex of semi-detached houses. Each had a lawn, a little porch, and a clothesline.

It also touted a pack of harmless street urchins who easily accepted me as one of their own. 

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Measure This

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August arrived last week. Its arrival brightened my outlook and mood, because it signals that the end of the packed Cape Cod summer tourist season is in sight. On the morning after Labor Day, my local roads and favorite restaurants will return to normal.

But August doesn’t exist. Nor do days, weeks, months, or seasons. Not even time itself. They all are products of our own fabrication.

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Dad’s Dead

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Our lying down each night is a rehearsal of sorts for our dying.

Even the idea of “lying with” another, as in the Biblical reference to sexual disport, usually results in la petite mort, the little death of orgasm. So in this sense there are two kinds of death associated with lying down: the “little death” that can yield new life, and the historical death from which we do not return.

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Sidekicks

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There is a little-talked-about effect of losing your partner or spouse. In addition to being denied their company and conversation, you are now bereft of a sounding board for your plans, problems and decision-making.

You’ve lost your sidekick. 

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The Meaning of Meaning

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Last week my houseguests, Gloria Durka and Paul Bumbar, and I brought a breakfast of coffee, scones and muffins to the ninety-seven-year-old energizer bunny known as Ilona Royce Smithkin.

We squeezed ourselves into her crammed, top-flour rooms overlooking Provincetown’s narrow Cape Cod Bay beach. We were there to help her brainstorm how she can dispose of her life’s work—hundreds of Impressionistic paintings and drawings.

Just as with every other encounter with Ilona, I came away spiritually richer for it.

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