2010

When the World Came Into Focus — Literally

I was talking to a nephew the other day. We were comparing notes about the first time we put on glasses and saw the world in it all its beauty. Both of us were about the same age — 8 years old. For me, that means a half-century of wearing spectacles. Without them, I am at the mercy of errant barbers who take off my glasses before the trim and then ask me what do I think about the results. How would I know? Children can make funny faces at me with aplomb. In fact, pretty much anything much beyond arm’s length is a blur without glasses. Years ago, I read “The River of Doubt,” a nonfiction...

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The Shortest Day, Longest Night

The winter solstice approaches. The shortest day of the year arrives on Saturday, followed by the longest night. Forecasters predict severe thunderstorms and lots of rain that day as a cold front moves through, and winter returns after a slow warming trend. Last weekend we had a fire blazing nearly nonstop, our family gathered around it. This morning I worked up a slight sweat while walking Sam the Dog along the Boorman Trail. The trail has taken a beating this fall, flooding  leaving a layer of mud left splayed on the concrete during the autumn gullywashers. City workers do a good job getting...

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The Inconstant Companion

Grief is an inconstant companion. It shows up at inopportune times, trailing the event that precipitated its arrival. Other times it lurks in the background, allowing us to get on with our lives, or at least pretend to. I was talking the other day to a colleague I don’t know that well, about my father-in-law’s murder. Something she said in sympathy set me off. Suddenly I was enveloped in a cloud of sadness and had to get out of her office as quickly as I could. (If you’re just now arriving at this story, please go to these two articles: (http://garyborders.com/pages/harris-teel-always-a-fighter-in-his-biggest-battle/...

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Nurses Truly Are a Special Breed

A surgical intensive care unit is a solemn site. It can be a place of despair or of hope, of lives lost or restored. My mother’s life was restored in Good Shepherd’s SICU in 1995 after she suffered a massive heart attack while I was visiting her in the emergency room. She had gone there complaining of chest pains and nausea. As we were talking she went into cardiac arrest. Soon they were slapping her chest with shock paddles and ushering me out of the room. Minutes later, I signed papers allowing a surgeon to operate and perform a double-bypass surgery. She bounced back from the bypass relatively...

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Harris Teel, Always a Fighter, in His Biggest Battle

I last talked to my father-in-law on Sunday. Friends had bought a swing set and playscape that had for years sat in his Gilmer backyard. Our daughter Abbie had long outgrown its use. I was meeting them there to help load it. “How are you doing, Mr. Teel,” I asked. I have always called him that, out of respect for the patriarch of this clan. “Fine as froghair,” he said, as always. Two days later, he was in Good Shepherd Medical Center’s operating room, the victim of a random stabbing attack in a waiting room at the hospital’s day-surgery center. He was there waiting to take...

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Four days in November, 50 Years Ago

Like all of us of a certain age, I remember the moment I learned President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. I was sitting in Mrs. Mahoney’s third-grade class in Allenstown, N.H. She had left the classroom on that early Friday afternoon. When she returned, Mrs. Mahoney was crying. She wrote on the chalkboard, “President Kennedy is dead.” Then she left the room again, leaving a dozen third-graders sitting in silence. With my myopic vision, at first I thought she had written “Principal Kenney” is dead.” That was the name of the fellow who ran the school. I wondered what could...

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And The Leaves That Are Green Turn To Brown

The other day we headed out to eat dinner to celebrate our daughter Abbie’s excellent report card. The sun was sinking low with the time change, though it wasn’t quite 5 o’clock. I looked down the street to check for traffic and saw the light catching the leaves on a tree in a front yard. That tree was ablaze with leaves glowing in the sunlight, so much so that I pointed it out to my Beautiful Mystery Companion. That tree made us both smile. This is my favorite time of year — crisp mornings, intense light, brilliant foliage, blue northers sweeping through with gray skies, stiff winds...

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Last Time I Went Deer Hunting

The opening of deer season reminded me of the first time I never shot a deer. We were living in the mid-1980s on six acres off El Camino Real — the King’s Highway — outside San Augustine in Deep East Texas, where I published The Rambler newspaper. I had leased an additional 50 acres on which I ran a few cows. Mainly the cows ran me ragged, since they had an annoying habit of rambling through the woods, busting through the decrepit barbed-wired fence and ending up on the highway about a half-mile away. The sheriff would call and let me know my cows were loose again. I would call a local...

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A Great Year To Be A Red Sox Fan

My first at-bat in organized baseball was at age 7. I rode the bench all year in this ersatz league, which didn’t abide by any rule requiring kids to play. The town was so small that the team had players from my age up to about 12. The league wasn’t connected with any official organization like Little League, so there weren’t requirements to play all the kids. But in the last game of the season the coach took pity and put me in for an at-bat in the final inning. I crowded in close to home plate, squinting out at the pitcher. My parents had not yet figured out I was terribly nearsighted....

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Held Hostage In The Auto Parts Store

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “In this world nothing can be certain, save death and taxes.” While that statement has stood time’s test, I would add a minor — and possibly uniquely American — corollary. Nobody gets out of an auto parts store in less than 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter if you are buying a can of oil, an exhaust manifold for a 1977 Dodge Dart, or a set of floor mats. Auto parts stores are designed to hold their customers hostage for a quarter-hour minimum. Men have missed the birth of their first grandchild because they swung by AAA-Big Easy Auto Parts to pick...

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