I am embarking on a major life change. As I write these words, it has been three days since I buried my father. I’ve been working as a caregiver in my parents’ home for seven and a half years. I gave up nearly everything in my life in August, 2008, to move to San Diego and help my father care for my mother, who’d suffered a stroke. Four months later, my dad had a stroke, and I was solely responsible for both of them. I cared for my mom until she passed away in May, 2012, and ever since then, it’s just been me and my ailing but vibrant dad. Now he is gone and I am here alone.
Shiv Dutta’s piece, “Rite of Passage,” is about his life with his beloved wife, Rita, and how he lost her to cancer. I’m going to let the piece speak for itself. I think most everyone, whether having recently lost a loved one or not, will find many valuable things to relate to in Dutta’s writing.
The other night I was taking a walk through a part of town containing a small homeless encampment, where people live in tents. The property they’ve occupied is a bulldozed high school where middle-class homes will soon be built. The homeless have lived here for quite some time, but tonight something new was happening: A man was ordering them to pack up their things, demanding to know which things they would take with them and which things the city would take to the dump. The tent residents had only minutes to decide. Construction on the site was to begin in the early morning, and the homeless were being ordered out now.
Witnessing this made me think about a lot of things, one of which is the fact that I haven’t read much literature from the point of view of those who’ve lived on the streets. So this month I’ve decided to give you “Seattle, We’re Begging” by Braxton Younts.
We live in a time when nearly anyone can be a celebrity, if only on social media. Celebrities attract fans and stalkers. “Stalking Jo Ann Beard,” by Cynthia Conte, sketches out the interesting dialectic tension that exists between the stalker’s idealized notion of the object and the actual experiencing of the object. In other words, it’s one thing to fantasize about the person you admire, and quite another actually to interact with that person.
Finally, at a time when I’ve been doing so much thinking about death, I give you “Poetry and Death,” by Tim Love, in which he gives us insights into his experiences of losing both his parents. His excellent and intelligent essay feels like the ideal way to conclude the selections for this month.