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Friday, June 23, 2023

Ills of a Certain Age



By Harry Cummins

      "This world has lost its glory, let's start a brand new story"  -Bee Gees

     My recent go-round with modern medicine has sent my mind spinning on the health of our world these days, not to mention my own well-being. What does it mean when a once-sturdy life or society suddenly collapses with advancing age?  Is illness merely a metaphor for the wider unraveling present in people and cultures?

      Bereft of answers to these rhetorical  questions, some considerations still remain.

     Not every illness we confront, personal or societal, abates or reverses itself. We need a new set of words to challenge our thinking about healing and what constitutes true restoration.  In this process ,we need each other's unique voices of experience. We need to hear them for their remarkable ability to balance self with reality, hope with acceptance, fear with affirmation. We need to hear them, especially, for their ability to establish a  connection with each other.

     To reconstitute ourselves, as individuals and as a society, in the midst of illness and attack, is to help one another make the attempt to go to bear our histories and infirmities with the highest of human credentials.

     Our old stories are ripe for retelling... but in new ways.  Words with the capacity to turn memories into steadfast hope in the midst of cumulative loss. 

     I might suggest this should be an overriding agenda, an antidote to our present affliction.


Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Pieces Of Her Heart


By Harry Cummins

     Until the day in 1984 when she just collapsed on the kitchen floor and died, I believe my mother had always thought of her life as being hard.

     She was married most of the time, to my father for a short while until his drinking drove her away, then to another man for nearly 30 years. It was sometime early into those 30 years that I grew into the understanding that my mother had given up on her own happiness.

     When I was in the sixth grade, my mother sent me away to live with a Norwegian family near San Francisco. Even then I never doubted her love. Often she would come to visit, putting her powerful arms around me and squeezing so hard I could barely breathe

 "Your happiness means everything to me," she would say.

     As my own life moved ahead, I could feel my uneasiness that hers was not.  Love held us close, but we seldom spoke to one another about what really mattered. In the end we got a little better at it.

     I know this now:  There is nothing so remarkable as the gifts we freely extend to others in the face of our own unhappiness.  It is not just ideal families or undamaged dreams that begat hope and affection. It is the powerful mystery of human love extended one to another.

     The mosaic beauty of broken pieces.