Binge-reading my parents’ love letters: was I wrong?

Should you read your parents’ love letters? For years I thought the answer was No. No because they were too private, never meant for others’ eyes, and likely to creep me out. But that changed once both of them were gone. I gradually realized that I exist because of their love story, so have standing... Read more »

Baby boomers are not elderly, thanks

This was a bad week for baby boomers. Hints of dismissal and irrelevancy are thick in the air. But boomers still have some fight in us and clearly it’s time to start using it. Nobody’s ready to be put out to pasture quite yet. Exhibit A: After the tragic tornados hit Fairdale IL, a WGN-TV... Read more »

An old love story and a new one: A story that wants to be told

Meet my brother-in-law Jim Healy, a fine writer in his own right as you will soon see. He answered my invitation to write a guest post. It has history, humor, and heart. Enjoy! It was the summer of 1968, and I was 15. My big brother David was taking courses during the summer at the... Read more »
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Climbing the Smokies - the prequel: Another story that wants to be told

Last spring, I told you the story about my trek up to see my mother’s birthplace. Well, now it is the 100th anniversary of another trip, the one that brought her family to that same spot to start their new life, while she was in utero. My cousin Don, the amazing researcher and Smoky Mountain... Read more »

Joy and sorrow can live in the same house: Lessons in grief from an Irish wake

I got caught up in an Irish wake recently when my husband and I stopped in to a familiar restaurant for a quick bite. We pulled up to the only two seats at the bar, ordered, and settled in to talk. Then we noticed the mounting noise – deafening volume, male and female voices, some... Read more »

The best advice I ever received: Don't be a Superwoman - save some for later

The wisest bit of advice I received as a young woman came from Darlene, even though I didn’t follow it. She was a five-years-older lady I knew just a little.  We talked one day about the differences between her generation and mine. She was raised in the women-as-housebound-caretaker era; me in the second-wave feminist you-can-do-everything... Read more »
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And that’s the day my life changed: Learning to speak up

The Prequel: I was trailing along behind my mother at the Hi-Low food store at 110th and Western, as usual. I was 8 years old, probably gazing at the red wagons lining the walls on shelves up by the ceiling, as usual. The cheery checkout lady finished up, handed the receipt to my mother and... Read more »

It’s Donna Day 2015: Her short and important life

Today is Donna Day. Never heard of it before? Well, listen up. Donna was a livewire, dancer, adorable girl who died. She died four years ago, at the age of four, after surviving brain cancer as long as she could. I know about Donna because her mom is Sheila Quirke, a well-known blogger known as... Read more »

A story that wants to be told of video I'd like to see: A 15 foot wall of molasses coming down the street

What moment in history would you like to see for yourself? That’s the topic of the week around ChicagoNow. How about seeing a 15 foot wall of molasses flowing down your street? That interests me. It was 1919 Boston. A giant storage tank was filled to the brim with 26 million pounds of molasses. Some... Read more »
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A World War II story that wants to be told: Going AWOL for love

This is a story within a story. It’s about my friend Greg. I’ve known him since we started at the same job at the same time in a community mental health center. We were both fresh out of grad school and filled with good intentions and precious little experience. It was the heyday of close... Read more »