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“The night before his ninety-fifth-birthday party, my father fell while turning around in his kitchen. My sister Lisa and her husband, Bob, dropped by hours later to hook up his new TV and discovered him on the floor, disoriented and in pain. He fell again after they righted him, so an ambulance was called. At the hospital, they met up with our sister Gretchen, and with Amy, who’d just flown in from New York to attend the party, which was now cancelled. “It was really weird,” she said when we spoke on the phone the following morning. “Dad thought Lisa was Mom, and when the doctor asked him where he was he answered, ‘Syracuse’—where he went to college. Then he got mad and said, ‘You’re sure asking a lot of questions.’ As if that’s not normal for a doctor. I think he thought this was just some guy he was talking to.”
Fortunately, he was lucid again by the following afternoon. That was the hard part for everyone—seeing him so confused.
On the night that my father fell, I was in Princeton, the fourth of eighty cities I would be travelling to for work. On the morning he was moved from the hospital to a rehabilitation center, I was on my way to Ann Arbor. Over the next week, he had a few little strokes, the sort people don’t notice right away. One affected his peripheral vision, and another his short-term memory. He’d wanted to return home after leaving rehab, but by this point there was no way he could continue to live alone. I wrote him a letter, saying, in part, “It isn’t safe for you at the house anymore, at least not on your own, and this concerns me. I need you to live long enough to see Donald Trump impeached.”
We’d fought bitterly after the election, and I knew it would be just my luck: my father would die, and the very next day the President would go down, denying me a well-deserved opportunity to gloat.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Not even what one might think of as the most basic tenet of any religion, a belief in the existence of God, is a prerequisite: Agnosticism is a key principle of at least one major school of Hindu philosophy."
"The presidency of any particular incumbent is relatively short... but the precedential consequences of impeaching a president without complying with the specific provisions of the Constitution “as it was written” are enduring."
"After news that a judge allegedly provided sexual favors to Bar Association president Efi Nave in exchange for her appointment, several politicians said in their responses that the Judicial Selection Committee needed to be the “Holy of Holies.”"
"Two new documentaries take on Billy McFarland and his disastrous music festival... the secret villain of this story all along: the subtle menace of social media marketing."
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"Popular music is shrinking. From 2013 to 2018, the average song on the Billboard Hot 100 fell from 3 minutes and 50 seconds to about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. "
"Here in the good old U.S. of A, the third annual Women's March planned for Jan. 19 is in serious trouble, thanks to irreconcilable political disagreements."
"Nature, however, with its endless cycles of death and rebirth, fascinated her. Walking in the woods, she developed a method that has become the hallmark of her poetry, taking notice simply of whatever happens to present itself."
"Modern parents haven’t stopped playing favorites; they’ve just stopped doing it openly. Though few parents today will admit they have a favorite child, studies indicate that about two-thirds of parents do."
"The first science-based diet that tackles both the poor food eaten by billions of people and averts global environmental catastrophe has been devised."
"Sphen and Magic looked like they would make great, diligent, careful egg-warming parents. They made the biggest nest, and they sat on it constantly."
"How YMHAs, followed by synagogue-centers, and finally JCCs have tried—in different ways—to balance Judaism and Jewishness, by bringing Jews together in intellectual, spiritual, and physical pursuits"