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The skeleton wore socks

The neighbours finally moved their mountain of garbage to the curb, and then the garbage truck came and took it all away, which is fabulous. But now we think they’ve flown the coop because everything appears to be gone – the garbage, the car that wouldn’t start, the people themselves – and they’ve left their [...]

I had a grandfather

My grandfather, Opa, would be celebrating his 104th birthday today if he hadn’t been killed by an irrational fear of surgery. He died in a hospital in Hollywood, Florida, as a result of septic poisoning from a blocked gall bladder duct. He was 86. The doctors had warned him about it, but he’d refused surgery. [...]

Next thing I knew, the duck was mine

Yesterday afternoon I walked right into an unfolding crisis on Fisher Avenue.

The scene, as I approached, involved a man stopping rush-hour traffic while he retrieved an injured duck from the middle of the road. She and her mate had been paddling in a puddle, when a woman passing by with a dog startled them, and [...]

Near-death experiences

I read the other day – I don’t remember where – that when you think you’re about to die, you panic, but when you know you’re about to die, you become very serene.

I’ve thought I was on the brink of death three times in my life. The first time was when I choked on a [...]

A life-long love of death notices

I’ve always read the obituaries, ever since I was a little girl. Some people think it’s morbid, but I don’t.

It’s not so much about looking for people I know, though there’s an element of that, of course. It’s mostly about gleaning what I can from the encapsulation of a person’s life in such a [...]

R.I.P. Junkyard Gary

My friend Junkyard Gary Watson died last night.

Gary had a face like a road map. Hard living had etched itself permanently into his skin.

Over the years, he eked out a meager living for himself as a house painter and junk dealer. He drove a battered old pickup truck. He collected still-useful junk from [...]

The corpse in the casket

When my son was about six or seven years old, he was seized with a sudden urge to see a dead body.

“I want to see a dead body,” he informed me solemnly.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“How about a picture of a dead body?”

“No,” he said. “A real one.”

I wavered and procrastinated. Sometimes he had these sudden [...]

The vast grey void

I’ve always been a little too acutely aware of my own mortality. As a child, I pondered death quite often. Not dying so much, but death itself. The state of being dead. Forever.

It was the permanence of death that weighed so heavily on me.

I tried to bargain with a God I didn’t believe in. [...]