Before I go, I have something to say

Category: Columns

Throwing in the Trowel

There we stood, looking out the windows of a house that had everything our current house did not – fireplace, bathrooms on each floor, a deck with a view. Most of all, it had a private yard. Our house on Wood Street was a sweet […]

A Little Mayo on the Side

My life as a medical tourist began with an odd proposal from my dentist. Ted Murray had been trying to fix a lifetime of dental errors when he paused one day – me with my messed-up mouth as wide as I could get it, him […]

I Miss You. Yes, You.

The photos in last week’s New York Times are startling: a desk missing a laptop, its cords dangling free. A dead mouse by the copier. Plants brown and crackling, inches from a watering can of stale water. The end times? Sort of. Welcome to the […]

Apology Accepted

Julia Bond wants an apology. The apparel designer at Adidas had resigned herself to enduring racism at work until she saw the George Floyd video. Now she’s in her third month of standing outside her Portland building every day, joined by others to not only […]

So Far Away

It’s been over seven months since I saw my granddaughters – Jane and Vera, identical twins, born five years ago. We held them within an hour of their birth, handing them around to their other grandparents, great-grandparents, and aunts in the hospital room. Even though […]

It Was the Best of Fairs, It Was the Worst of Fairs

It’s been a long time since I went to the fair. When I say “the” fair, I don’t mean Dubuque County’s, but the Mississippi Valley Fair, in my hometown of Davenport. What I still love about that one is its location – right smack in […]

A Racist in the Family

A Racist in the Family My grandpa, Grover Ripperton, was loving, and funny, and a complete racist. He bemoaned the integration of his beloved baseball games, calling the players nasty names that must have made my parents wince, but we never talked about it. My […]

When Someone Calls You a Sheep

Do you wear a mask? Good for you! Has someone called you a “sheep” for doing so? It’s something that is happening to friends and family of mine, and it’s very strange. My daughter heard a man who passed her in the Target parking lot […]

A Murder-Suicide in the Family

A Murder-Suicide in the Family

Years ago, I wrote a poem titled “How My Cousin Nancee Died.” I knew only that her husband, Steve, had shot her, and her pianist, and then himself – a double-murder-suicide. (She had a pianist because she was a singer. Her husband evidently suspected an […]

My Tribe

My Tribe

A lot of people I know were stunned by the outcome of last November’s election. How could this happen? Why didn’t we see it coming? Why did they vote for him? Therein lies a problem. Who, exactly, are “they”? The ballot box is secret. Unlike […]

The Perks of Being Fired by My Doctor

The Perks of Being Fired by My Doctor

Have you ever been fired by a doctor? When it happened to me, six years ago, I was devastated. Not only would Dr. Doe (name changed, pronouns scrambled) no longer see me after three years of treating my headaches, he would not allow any of […]

Do Something Good

Late last month, a story in the TH stunned me with its tale of human cruelty. Its setting was not a bombed city in the Mideast, or a flooded island south of the equator. It took place in Iowa, in an office. You can probably […]

Becoming Grandma

Ever since last August, when my son and his wife brought twin daughters into the world, I have wanted to write about them. And I have, in letters, Facebook posts, and in these very pages. Often, though, I hesitate. No one wants to listen day […]

In Memory Of

I went looking for Mark Anderson the other day. I hadn’t heard from him in years, but wondered about him, off and on, since we graduated from high school together. Our class numbered 698 teenage souls, but my circle of friends was a mere subset. […]

A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family

Bob and I returned home late, one warm August night. As usual, our cat, Leo, greeted us, flopping down on the living room floor, ready for his nighttime routine. First, get brushed, rolling over on cue. Next, wait for the fistful of treats that come as […]

Missing Friend

Eden (not her real name, for reasons that will become evident) is one of my oldest friends. After being paired as perfect roommates in college, we remained part of each other’s lives, meeting  up in Colorado, Paris, L.A., and always writing letters. She settled on […]

The Valley of the Dolls

We have survived the move. We put every single thing we owned into boxes, bins, and Hy-Vee bags, and now we live in another place. It’s only two miles from our old house, but I sometimes feel like we went to the moon. The house […]

Father of the Year

This is a story of three fathers. The first was Harold. He became a father six years after he married my mom, and he became my father eight years later. His children were both girls, which was a shame since he had so much to […]

A Very Very Very Fine House

This is the tale of three houses. One I grew up in, one I raised my children in, and one I moved into when my nest emptied and I married for a second time. I will be leaving this last one soon, as we move […]

Books to Go

Everybody knows moving is one of the most stressful life events. Only . . . it’s not true. The BBC debunked this stubborn myth two years ago, putting “moving into a new home” way down behind one hundred other stressors. Your response to this news […]