Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Recycling at the Washington Post

Here are two screen shots from this morning's Washington Post. (Hours before Tom Daschle threw in the towel.) Note the photos:

Well, I suppose those news photos get to be expensive, and if you can reuse them so much the better in a tough economy.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Recession? What Recession?

This at online.wsj.com:

    Macy's to Cut 7,000 Jobs

    Macy's Inc. said it will cut about 7,000 positions, or 4% of its work force, and slash its dividend, as the retailer looks to lower expenses amid slumping sales.

    The largest U.S. department-store chain also announced plans to expand a decentralization strategy that localizes store offerings.

...and so on. But just to show how weird the economy can be, the local Macy's store this past weekend had "we're hiring" placards prominently displayed near the entrances. No help to those 7,000 others, poor devils.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

One Year Ago (6)

It is impossible now to recapture, let alone recount, the thoughts and emotions that washed over and through me as I sat on the edge of that old bed with my father's cold hand in mine. Sorrow that he had died alone. Relief that he had died in his own bed, in relatively good health. Sadness that there were so many unsaid things. Joy that we had always been close and had grown even closer in the years since Mom's death. Shock at realizing that, at the most fundamental level, I was now alone. the two people who had always been the constants in my existence now both departed. Despair at thinking that there were so many other things, so many more things I should have done. I should have known. I should have been there.

And yet it is as it is.

And my father was an intensely proud, independent, and private man. If he had been given a choice, this would have been it: In his own home, in his own bed, quietly.

Still. As I would say to my brother when I called him a few minutes later, I wasn't ready for this.

A year later I'm still not.

One Year Ago (5)

Newspaper on the front step. Not a good sign.

I use my key to enter the locked garage, and knock on the back door. I use my key on the backdoor, calling out as I enter the kitchen.

The beep of the answering machine in the back room, my old room. And the obnoxious hiss of Dad's CPAP machine, in my brother's old room. Otherwise silence.

Two more bad signs.

I move back to my parents' room. Shades are drawn and the light is cold and dim. I come upon the best of the worst-case scenarios: Dad in bed, looking for all the world like he is merely sleeping, his Rosary in hand. It was his practice to pray the Rosary at bedtime. One might think that he would suddenly awaken, but of course he does not. He is gone. He is cold.

That, perhaps, is the most striking thing as I take his hand in mine: His hand is cold. My father's hands were always warm.

I sit with him awhile now. There is no longer any hurry.

One Year Ago (4)

And then you start to make the lists. There are, perhaps, a hundred things that could have gone wrong. You sort through them, on the two-mile drive--the best case, the worst case.

Best case: He fell asleep in his chair. He'd been complaining about waking in the wee hours and not being able to return to sleep, then being tired all day: Perhaps he sat down in front of the TV and dozed off, then didn't hear the phone(s) because the TV was too loud. Maybe you'll come in the back door and he'll awake with a start and you'll both have a laugh.

Worst case: He fell down the basement stairs and broke a leg, a hip...a neck. Or he had a stroke and has been unable to get to the phone. The thought of him having lain there injured or incapacitated for hours or longer is intolerable. Noon-hour traffic is heavy and slow.

One Year Ago (3)

The day, as I recall, was gray, steely, cold but not bitingly so. Concerned at Dad's lateness, I pulled out my phone and dialed my dad's house. Answering machine. I called his cell phone. Voice mail. I even called his OnStar number, which he didn't usually activate unless he was planning to be on the road--which seldom happened anymore.

Concern now turned to...what? Not worry, exactly, for I now knew that something was completely and seriously wrong. The question now was only what I would find when I went to the house.

I turned and went down the hill to my office to retrieve my things. I knew I wouldn't be back that day.

One Year Ago (2)

It was at about this point one year ago that I began to become concerned at my dad's lateness. Had we pushed the meeting time back? Sometimes we did, if he wanted to attend Mass. But I didn't recall that we had discussed it during the week.

One Year Ago

It was about this time, one year ago, that I was heading up the hill to the parking lot where my dad would pick me up for the weekly lunch date we had had since my mom's death some four years previous.