My Oxymoron

Spring and Kate’s Yahrzeit Moon

The Cuna Islands, 2011

Monday gratefuls: Dementialville. Alan. Marilyn Herrs. Tal Arnold. The playwrights. Missing Kate at intermission. April, the cruelest month. T.S. Eliot. Poetry. Rumi. Rilke. Stevens. Coleridge. Wordsworth. Rabbi Jamie. Dreams. Sleep. Cool nights. Solar energy. Efficient mini-splits. Induction cooking. Where’s that electric car?

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Community theater


Remember how I said yesterday that I need human contact, but the need is not difficult to fill. Well I overfilled yesterday. Had the Ancient Brothers in the morning talking about war. A brief lie down, then over to Evergreen to Center Stage for the play Dementiaville. As I noted yesterday two CBE’rs wrote it: Tal Arnold and Marilyn Herrs. My buddy Alan Rubin had a lead role.

Joseph and my Dad

Talking about war. A lot of throwing up of hands in the I don’t know gesture. Way complicated. I was never a pacifist, neither was Paul. Kate was. All the way. But she loved Joseph and continued to love him after he joined the Air Force. Tom brought up James Hillman’s interesting book, The Terrible Love of War. I mentioned Joseph’s role in the Mideast during the fight in Libya. Paul mentioned Aquinas and just war theory. Bill mentioned the critical difference between defense and aggression.

A friend of mine now, a Facebook friend who was my sister’s age and in her class at Alexandria High School, Bill Hill, wrote what defined key part of the conservation for me: Criticize the war, not the warrior. Bill was in the Marines. Militaries do not decide to fight wars. Politicians do. Warriors serve because they love the people for whom they are willing to fight and die for. This is honorable. In a profound way.

The world of nation-states is anarchic. The rule of law does not apply. Yes, there are treaties and trade pacts and the World Bank and the U.N. but few nations willingly  compromise their national sovereignty. See all the struggles in the E.U. over just this issue. And, Brexit. The few convictions for war crimes at the Hague. National interest can always outweigh international compacts and agreements.

This is not big news. It has been the state of things since humankind first gathered in groups. It is why warriors, priests, and prostitutes are three of the oldest professions for human service. Right now we have a weakened United States, a violent autocrat in control of Russia, and a rising eastern hegemon in China. The times are unstable for geopolitical reasons as well as climate change and covid.

Joseph’s role as liaison for the USAF to the Philippines has a mission critical role. The U.S. supply chain is too long in case of¬† hostilities with China. All this matters for the peace and health of our country, the world, and my own family.

We Ancient Brothers failed in our role: solving a problem vexing our world. Old guy wisdom insufficient.


Over to Bear Creek and the Center Stage theater. 2 o’clock matinee. I need matinees. The dominant hair color at this last performance of Dementiaville suggested I am not the only one. This play had some comic relief, a delightful older woman with horns on her walker and a hat like the grandma in Green Acres. And she was really good. The topic needed it.

Set in a memory care center for the most part Dementiaville touched on not only those struggling with memory loss, but how it presents in family situations. The gradual anxiety, for example, of Bill (played by Alan) as his wife forgot his name, got angry when he took the car keys, and broke mirrors when she couldn’t recognize the face in the mirror.

It was a touching play and Alan’s monologue on love got applause even as he left the stage. The gradual loss of a partner to this awful condition was difficult to watch.

And, had the odd effect of allowing me to see the positive side of Kate’s long physical decline. We discussed her situation, what was happening, what might need to be done as we always had. She was alert until the darkness closed over her.

Though. As I had this realization, it brought Kate and my grief to the surface. Then came the intermission. We went out into the lobby where I milled around, glad for my face mask among people I didn’t know. Memory flashes of early days in Minneapolis when I went to the Guthrie, the Walker Art Center, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts by myself. Something I enjoyed. More flashes. Kate was not there to discuss the play, wonder about the actors, talk about a meal afterwards, perhaps.

I suddenly felt alone. And lonely. I had not been to a play or concert alone since she died. And not many after she got sick. This was hard. Yet, I have to find my through it. I do not intend to be a recluse. A hermit, yes, but one who still interacts with the world. Maybe an oxymoron like my neon hermit sign, but it’s my oxymoron and one I choose.


For example. The Ancient Brothers and the time at Center Stage made me feel, as we say here in the West, like I’d been rode hard and put up wet. Slept ten hours. Tuesday will have this flavor, too, I’m sure. I need alone time to recharge my social battery. This is Ruth’s metaphor and a good one.

This entry was posted in Aging, Art and Culture, Asia, Cinema and Television, Family, Feelings, Fourth Phase, Friends, Health, Judaism, Literature, Mountains, Politics, Shadow Mountain. Bookmark the permalink.

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