It’s all fake.

I’ve been turning off the Olympics, bored, after 45 minutes the last few nights. It’s the snow, I think. It’s not snow, it’s weird compressed fake cold stuff that doesn’t look or behave like real snow. No flakes ever fall from the sky. The slopes look like white concrete, and allegedly feel like it when athletes fall on them, too.

I’m getting no Winter vibe from any of the interstitial bits, either. No sense that anyone is sitting just out of camera range drinking hot chocolate or gathering to hit the clubs and celebrate, post-medal.

God, China sucks. At least at this.

It’s not all the host country’s fault, I should add. Some of these events make zero sense to me. Snowcross, slopestyle, big air, meh — people launch themselves into the air over icy concrete and we say wow. Only I don’t say wow. I say why would anyone want to fly into the sky upside down over icy concrete? WHERE IS THE SNOW?

Oh, this is just me being peevish again. Also, the skating is OK, but I wish we could see more speedskating.

So, many years ago, not long after I arrived in Indiana, a friend told me about a radio ad he’d heard, for a series of action figures, toys for kids. At the time, action figures were mainly superheroes, Transformers and ninja turtles, which for some reason Christians found objectionable. So, in an effort to submerge their children in an alt-culture more to their liking, they came up with Heroes of the Kingdom, i.e. little plastic Biblical figures that kids could play with. I recall, from the ad, a little boy’s voice: Goliath, God will protect me from your sword!

We know now that Christian alt-culture goes far beyond action figures (although honestly, I wish their music didn’t suck so hard). But imagine being a child in such a family, plowing through your homeschool curriculum, and then you’re handed, oh, a book on Thomas Sowell:

While he looked for work, he often had nothing to eat except stale bread and jam. But Sowell refused to give in to despair or self-pity. And indeed, Sowell went on to be a famous thinker that inspires millions with his ideas on self-reliance and free-market economics.

Thomas Sowell guy has been in a veritable featherbed of a sinecure for his entire career, as I recall. If he were released into the free market, he’d be stripped for parts before he could set up a card table on the sidewalk to sell his books. Fun fact gleaned from his Wikipedia entry: He’s 91. And I still think the best thing ever written about him was something I found and posted years ago, but bears repeating:

Sowell, a syndicated newspaper columnist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes a book a year. His first one appeared in 1971, and he has written forty-six in all. I confess to not having read them all. But I have read enough of them to know that Sowell is not one for changing his mind. Although he claims to have been a Marxist in his youth, his published writings never vary: the same themes—the market works, affirmative action does not work, Marxism is wrong, and, yes, intellectuals are never to be trusted—dominate from start to finish. The right has its share of converts—those, such as the also prolific David Horowitz, who began on one extreme only to shift to the other, and along their bumpy way display at least some genuine vitality—but Sowell is not one of those. The flatness of his sentences is matched by the flatness of his trajectory. Whatever darkness exists in the world does not reside in his soul. He undertakes no bildung and experiences no crises. He learns nothing that does not confirm what he already knew. If he were a character in a novel, it would end on page one.

I am not in the conversion business, but I have changed my mind more than a few times in the forty or so years that I have been putting my views before the public. Reality can do that to you. You might think, for example, as I once did, that affirmative action is highly suspect because it gives more weight to group membership than individual achievement. But if you teach at a university and see your classes enriched by the diversity that affirmative action brings to them, and if you then hear remarkable stories of the individual achievements made possible through the magic of the college admissions process, you may begin to change your mind. I do not fear a future Tim Russert combing my early books to find words in blatant contradiction to my present ones: good luck in even finding the young out-of-print me. Sure, some of the stuff I once wrote embarrasses me now, even down to my choice of titles. But better that than sentences never exposed to the air of experience.

That’s Alan Wolfe, by the way.

And this is me wishing you a pleasant weekend. And some actual snow in Beijing.

Posted at 10:41 am in Current events |

46 responses to “It’s all fake.”

  1. Scout said on February 11, 2022 at 11:24 am

    I too am nonplussed by this Olympics. We subscribed to Peacock to be able to watch the events in replay when it suits us. Only problem is that the replay is just the camera and no commentary. I thought that was great at first, but then realized that you actually learn stuff from the color, like the fact that Nathan Chen’s short program set a high score record. Only found out about that later. And the opening ceremony? YAWN city. What was with all those people jumping up and down on the sidelines during the parade of nations? It was really hokey.

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  2. alex said on February 11, 2022 at 11:43 am

    For some reason my Facebook feed occasionally features platitudes from Sowell books and the commenters are mostly swooning fans. Ayn Rand receives similar adulation. I don’t get it.

    He’s the pioneer of the same schtick being employed, or I should say exploited, by Candace Owens, who does it ever so much more successfully: The selling of one’s soul to the White Right in exchange for its filthy lucre.

    Clarence Thomas is also a practitioner of this vile tradition, only in his case his wife collects the money while he snoozes through oral arguments.

    Good gigs if you can get them, I suppose.

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  3. Heather said on February 11, 2022 at 11:53 am

    I haven’t watched the Olympics at all. I usually like to watch at least the ice skating, but for the last few decades the whole “rah rah USA” tone of NBC’s coverage was off-putting. I want to know about all the athletes! Maybe it’s not like that anymore, I dunno.

    Since we have a lot of current or former journos here, as well as current and former Chicagoans, I thought I’d share the story of what’s going on at the Chicago Reader, since there was an article about it in Crain’s yesterday. It all started when the billionaire owner wrote a column expressing doubt about the Covid vaccines that was riddled with all sorts of bullshit–the kind of thing that should never have made it into the paper in the first place. Then he got all butthurt when readers were horrified and the staff revolted. So now he’d like to make the paper suffer, basically, by delaying/preventing the paper’s long-planned transition to a nonprofit organization, potentially putting 30+ people and lots of freelancers and contractors out of work and killing a 50-year-old paper. I haven’t worked there or freelanced for Reader for years, but I know someone who does, and it’s heartbreaking to see their optimism about its future utterly crushed. (sub required)

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  4. Jeff Borden said on February 11, 2022 at 11:55 am

    Instead of watching the Olympics, I’ve been trying to picture our beloved and bloated Orange King stuffing vital documents down the White House toilet and then clogging it up. Remember his fixation on toilets. . .how he claimed it took 10 or 15 flushes to clear the bowl because of the nefarious liberal communist EPA’s low-volume thrones? It all makes sense now.

    And still tens of millions of ‘Muricans worship the guy. Whatta country.

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  5. Bitter Scribe said on February 11, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    This is the most ugly-ass Olympics, in every sense of the word, that I have ever seen.

    I’d like to call on the IOC not to locate the Olympics in dictatorships. But then where would they go? The Olympics are so hideously expensive, and so guaranteed to leave the host country with a bunch of white elephants, that the only ones left who really want them are dictators who need to buff their egos.

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  6. alex said on February 11, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    Heather, that’s sad news about the Reader, although I don’t think it has been all that good since the founders first sold it. Apparently it has changed hands a number of times since then and lost the unique sensibilities that made the Reader the Reader. Lost its way, really. Fired a lot of long-termers and created a lot of ill will. It’s been years since I picked one up, but my impression at that time was that it had pretty much abandoned any serious journalism. That the current owner could be so tone-deaf as to publish an anti-vax screed clearly shows that he doesn’t “get” Chicago and should never have involved himself with editorial content whatsoever.

    I don’t have a subscription to Crain’s or I’d definitely plunge in and see what’s going on there.

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  7. alex said on February 11, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    Vanity Fair spills some poop on the document dump:

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  8. Bitter Scribe said on February 11, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    It’s too bad about the Reader.

    In their glory days, they did journalism that literally no one else in Chicago was doing. They had some of the most entertaining writers in town — remember Neil Steinberg and “Bobwatch,” his ongoing evisceration of the egregious Bob Greene?

    They needed to get over themselves sometimes — they could come off as a little too self-impressed. But they were good. Sadly, they’ve been a shadow of that for at least 10 years.

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  9. Heather said on February 11, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    Definitely agree that the Reader is not what it was. But that’s largely due to the mishandling by a series of owners since the original owners sold it, as well as the grim reality of newspapers and journalism in general.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on February 11, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    The future of journalism looks awfully bleak just as the need for strength and independence is more and more important. I’m trying not to wallow in the sh*t storm while being terribly, terribly amused.

    Scout, it seems the only way to get any commentary is to play the prime time coverage from the previous night. You don’t get all the skaters, only the ones they chose to show, and you have to fast forward to find the place. The fast forward doesn’t show you a preview, so you have to guess. It’s quite aggravating.

    As for the rest of the Olys, five or ten minutes of assorted other sports is all I need. Like Nance, I don’t get the appeal and can only think about impending joint damage. I’ve also figured out there’s absolutely nothing else I want to see on Peacock, so I’m cancelling the moment the skating is over.

    Then, of course, there’s the latest Russian doping scandal, in which the 15 yo wunderkind tests positive for a banned substance, but Russia decides to overturn her suspension. I sincerely don’t understand why they have that power and am hoping against hope the IOC will boot her.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on February 11, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    Jimmy Kimmel has dubbed the latest tRump story “Mar-a-Cloggo.”

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  12. Sherri said on February 11, 2022 at 3:04 pm

    The Russians have every reason to think they could get by with overturning a suspension of their best figure skater. They ran a years long state-sponsored doping program of their athletes, and when they got caught, were “banned” from the Olympics in name only, literally, in that their athletes compete under the Russian Olympic Committee rather than under Russia.

    A sign of how little interest the Olympics are drawing in this country is that this scandal is barely a blip on the radar in the news here. Drug cheat in figure skating would have been all over the news once upon a time, now I have to search to find the details.

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  13. LAMary said on February 11, 2022 at 3:04 pm

    The speed skaters are good. Curling bores the shit out of me but two family members seem to like it. Go figure. The NBC coverage is a little less rah rah America this time. It annoyed me a lot in the past coverage. Worst thing I’ve seen this time? The inclusion of a Uighur in the opening ceremony. “See? We’re not putting them all in re-education camps!” Feh.

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  14. David C said on February 11, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    A couple of the guys in our department are into curling. They decided it would be a great team building activity. I’d never seen anything but snippets of it and thought it looked really boring. Guess what? It’s really boring to play too. I only go to team building events because we’re paid for them and a bad day away from work (paid) is better than a good day at work. That they’ve been suspended because of Covid bothers me not one bit.

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  15. Dexter Friend said on February 11, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    Years ago we got a Canadian TV channel on our cable. “Hockey Night in Canada” with Don Cherry
    and curling, too. And Newfie bands like “Figgy Duff” with Pamela Morgan, who I happened to see in Toronto years ago.
    So that was how I got a tad interested in curling, but the older I get , the less I give 2 shits about the Olympic Games. Besides, low-level depression is setting in as the news from players/owners of MLB indicate baseball spring training is certainly to be delayed. And goddammitt, I need my still photos of baseball being played in hot climates, to get me through this fucking ice and snow and shit.
    The VA is trying to keep me going, I think…they put me on another telehealth program , this time a machine with its own dedicated Verizon cell phone inside, to monitor my blood pressure. It was a little high at the doc’s, so I got the machine. Here it’s perfectly normal B/P readings. *sigh* Well, I’m old and all that jazz.
    Trump and the shredded docs, flushed and sent to Florida, big news on cable but will DOJ try to prosecute? Lock him up, yeah, let’s do that, and soon.
    Clogging the WH toilets with shredded docs, yeah, sounds like Trump, the leader with 80% backing from his GOP.
    Here where I reside, Rand Paul has joined in with Mike Gibbons to try to get Gibbons into the US Senate. Paul, of KY, loves Gibbons so much…they both want Dr. Fauci fired and Trump elected, and all masks burned. This Gibbons is a real creepy bastard. Totally backwards.

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  16. Sherri said on February 11, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Hey, Dave Chappelle is a NIMBY, too!

    All the usual arguments – not affordable enough, evil developer, cookie-cutter development, etc – net result? No multi family housing will be built, just single family housing, and none of it will be affordable.

    But NIMBYs are never opposed to affordable housing, they just have never found a project that was suitable.

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  17. Deborah said on February 11, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    It got up to 55 today in Santa Fe. LB and I did all kinds of chores outside, it was glorious, we spent most of the afternoon outdoors cleaning up a lot of the winter messyness.

    As I’ve said before I’ve spent no time watching the olympics and from what everyone is saying I feel like I’m justified in wasting no time on it.

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  18. LAMary said on February 11, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    It’s way too hot here. Usually this time of year it’s in the sixties. Today? 90. There was a brush fire yesterday.

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  19. Ann said on February 11, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    Heather, thanks for the update on the situation at The Reader. Of course they can’t be what they once were, when there ten or fifteen pages of personal ads in addition to all the ads for concerts and music stores, but they’ve still got some real reporters doing stories no one else is doing. Everything I know about TIFs I learned from Ben Joravsky and he’s still there.

    Snowing here. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for “Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 8. Wind chill values between -10 and -20. Blustery, with a northwest wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.” The dog will still refuse to poop until we’ve been out at least 15 minutes and are at least that far from home. I’ll be wearing snow pants and my new Turtle Fur™ balaclava. I’ll be fine. My daughter was just telling her kids that she remembered that fleece was invented when she was a kid and Turtle Fur was the only brand. Of course they live in Scottsdale, so what do they know of fleece.

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  20. basset said on February 11, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Been watching the biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and smallbore rifle shooting, which looks like it’d be fun if you could do it at a leisurely walk.

    And, as I’ve mentioned here before, the more intense version of the NIMBY is the BANANA… Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.

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  21. Julie Robinson said on February 11, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    Mary, my guy is out your way visiting family members and I’m thankful I talked him into taking a couple of pairs of shorts. The family he was visiting today live in Pasadena and the kids were off for President’s Day. He wasn’t sure if it was their district or the whole state. So on this 90° day, what did they do? Made apple dumplings. The first time they visited we made them and now it’s a thing where that’s what they do with Uncle D.

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  22. MarkH said on February 12, 2022 at 12:49 am

    I am not as cynical about the Olympics as some of you, although the wife is more into it than me. So guess what I get to watch each night until Feb. 20. I agree that NBC’s coverage has been more even-handed, but they sure go overboard with some USA athletes. The excess devotion to Mikaela Shiffrin sure blew up on them, as it almost did with Shaun White. I kept hoping they would instead highlight our local athlete/silver medalist Jaelin Kauf, especially since there were no USA medals early on. I had to look for taped reruns of her freestyle moguls effort. But at long last they did stop talking about Lindsay Jacobellis’ 2006 snowcross debacle.

    To Nancy’s points on the ski events, I have always felt most of them, especially the new acrobatic events, require a certain level of insanity. The downhill and Super-G still scare me most due to the outright speed and on-the-edge control. Thrilling to watch nonetheless.

    The snow there is definitely a problem and the culprit in some poor performances. Here’s an assessment from an atmospheric scientist.

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  23. Dexter Friend said on February 12, 2022 at 1:37 am

    My daughter who is moving into her Van Buren, Ohio home, scouted out homes in Yellow Springs. She had $400,000 to play around with and was snubbed by the real estate agents of Yellow Springs. She wanted a large house in a semi-rural area with a huge backyard, but didn’t have the $1.2M. She bought the same type deal in tiny Van Buren for a mere $295,000.

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  24. alex said on February 12, 2022 at 9:37 am

    My mom finally passed last night. Her condition deteriorated this week after going more than three weeks without eating.

    I feel at peace with it, having had a long time to get accustomed to the idea that she wouldn’t be around forever. As she was fond of saying, “At this age, every day you wake up is a gift.” I think it’s a good perspective at any age.

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  25. FDChief said on February 12, 2022 at 9:45 am

    I’ll jump in to stick up for the snowboardcross; it has a fun, insane roller derby feel to it that many of the other events lack. Figure skating? “When is he/she going to fall down..?”. Downhill? ““When does he/she crash at 60 mph..?”. I appreciate the skill involved, just kind of don’t really find a handle to grab me. But short-track? THAT’s utterly nuts and fun to watch.

    Mind you, biathlon would be more entertaining if they brought back the original context and let the Finns ambush the Russians.

    Today in Portland it’s going to be 60 degrees F. Sixty! In February! That’s a lovely day, but truly, deeply, madly wrong. I’d like to find Jim Inhofe and smack him in the nose with a snowball. It’s sixty in February, you nitwit. Tell me that’s okay.

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  26. ROGirl said on February 12, 2022 at 9:45 am

    Alex, sorry for your loss. Even though it was expected, the passing of a parent is never easy.

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  27. Suzanne said on February 12, 2022 at 10:33 am

    My condolences Alex. We went through this with my dad a few years ago. He had suffered with dementia and all associated with that and it finally took its toll. I miss him but he had deteriorated so much, it was almost a relief. It was in the midst of COVID and I will be forever thankful that he was put on hospice which allowed us to be with him, hold his hand, and tell him we loved him.
    May your mother’s memory be a blessing.

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  28. Heather said on February 12, 2022 at 11:06 am

    My condolences, Alex. I’m glad you had time to say good-bye and prepare yourself.

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  29. dexter said on February 12, 2022 at 11:16 am

    Alex, a preacher consoled me when Dad died, saying to steel myself even more for when Mom passed. I was much closer to Dad, but he was right; I awoke on Mom’s funeral day and felt paralyzed, as if I can’t do this. I told my wife I just couldn’t go through with that day. I did.
    Losing Mom , a tough pill to swallow. Peace and strength, brother.

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  30. Sherri said on February 12, 2022 at 11:46 am

    So sorry for your loss, Alex.

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  31. susan said on February 12, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    I’m so sorry, Alex. It’s a whole nother world losing Mom.

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  32. Colleen said on February 12, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    My condolences Alex. I’m glad you had time together at the end.

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  33. Julie Robinson said on February 12, 2022 at 12:53 pm

    Alex, let me add my condolences. When a parent dies it tears a hole in your universe; even when death is expected and welcomed. She’s been released but I know you are especially concerned about your dad. Give yourself time to mourn as you adjust to your new universe.

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  34. tajalli said on February 12, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    Alex, so sorry for your loss even though it was expected. With my dad, the grief came in waves, starting a few weeks after he passed and the arrangements were over.

    On the weather front, I’m on the central coast of California and we’ve had a balmy mid-70s for a week or so now. Much better than the low-40s, mounds of quilts at night, and not being able to air out the house.

    My cherry tomato has come back to life after pruning it back in November, pushing out new leaves with blossoms, even a few green tomatoes fleshing out in the sunshine as I type.

    Our huge burst of rain in December petered out and although my region is still at about 110-135% of normal to date, we’ve had so many years of drought that the reservoirs could use 3 times what we got in December and still have plenty of room. But no storms in sight – I suspect we’ve had our share for this rainy season.

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  35. LAMary said on February 12, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    Very sorry about your mother, Alex. I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said. Hang on to the memories of the sweet times you had with her.

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  36. David C said on February 12, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    Sorry for your loss, Alex.

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  37. Deborah said on February 12, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Alex, so sorry. From many things you’ve said in your comments it seems like you’ve had a wonderful relationship with your parents as they have been aging. You will be a big help to your father in many ways to come, I’m sure. I love the saying “may her memory be a blessing” it seems so right.

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  38. Dave said on February 12, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    Alex, my condolences, I can’t expand on what others are saying here but losing parents is hard, even when you’re prepared for it. My own parents lived long lives and I couldn’t imagine them ever not being around but that day did come. May you find comfort in memories. Your dad is going to need some help.

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  39. Jeff Gill said on February 12, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Alex, blessings with you as you work through this transition . . . and for what it might be worth, remember you’ve been mourning her passing in these last few months, so don’t put any pressure on yourself to grieve “enough” now. There’s a level of relief that’s not only normal, it’s human. The mix will sort itself out as you work through, but so many people feel guilty about having any relief after such a passage I wanted to mention that out loud (for you and anyone else who needs to hear it).

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  40. Indiana Jack said on February 12, 2022 at 7:26 pm

    Alex, Take care of yourself in the weeks and months ahead. Grief moves at its own pace, and the loss of a parent leaves a wound that takes time to heal. But it does heal.

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  41. annie said on February 12, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    Alex, did she really not eat for 3 weeks? What a strong woman she was! Condolences.

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  42. MarkH said on February 13, 2022 at 12:28 am

    Alex – adding my condolences to those earlier. Losing parents is never easy. You were lucky to have your mother for so long, and her to have you there. Peace and blessings.

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  43. jerry said on February 13, 2022 at 2:58 am

    Alex, my sympathies. Be proud of her for having the knowledge of when she was ready to leave and the strength to see her decision through. And remember all the good times you shared in the past.

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  44. diane said on February 13, 2022 at 10:09 am

    My condolences Alex. Losing a parent is hard and grief comes in different and surprising ways. Be gentle with yourself.

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  45. alex said on February 13, 2022 at 10:53 am

    Thank you all. I think Nancy described her beautifully in a personal communication: She was an individualist in a town of conformists.

    It has been amazing, the things that have come back to memory recently, such as snippets from story books that she read to me when I was a toddler, and it gives me great comfort, not to mention great wonderment, that things not reflected upon for nearly 60 years are still there and with the same vividness as if they’d happened yesterday.

    I’m still absorbing some of the revelations she shared in her last days, some of which I may have to take to my own grave.

    I’m glad I moved back here from Chicago when I did nearly 18 years ago. I did so thinking my parents would need my help, but they managed to be completely independent up to this point and we got to spend a lot of quality time together, so I can’t imagine things having turned out any better.

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  46. Deborah said on February 13, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    Beautifully said, Alex.

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