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A Tightrope Life

Now a retired seventy-five-year-old woman, I thought that finding balance would be easy after spending many years juggling my life as a single mother to a son and daughter, as a teacher of middle school students and then a consultant at a local university’s Writing Center, and eventually as the caregiver for my two elderly parents. I was wrong.

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No Turning Back

When I was a freshman in high school, two of my classmates lost their mothers to suicide. Going to their funerals, my first ones, was traumatic. I remember struggling not to giggle—a blatantly inappropriate response—but for whatever reason, that is how my emotions chose to express themselves. I spent many sleepless nights after these tragedies, haunted by images of my parents hurting themselves.

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Attention Must Be Paid

I learned in elementary school that there are four kinds of sentences: declarative, exclamatory, imperative, and interrogatory. A case could be made for assigning the phrase “Me, too” to several of these categories. It could be considered declarative—an assertion of solidarity. Or perhaps exclamatory—a cry for affirmation. Or imperative, for these two simple words carry with them the voice of a command, especially by women who have been sexually abused or harassed, to be heard

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Thanks for the Memories

I have always felt blessed to be a person who enjoys her own company—who does not feel lonely when alone. That being said, I do welcome technology and its ability to link me virtually with family and friends. I do rely on a car, train and plane to transform those virtual connections into in-person ones. And I am grateful to books that always create a bridge between me and other people and worlds. Although the

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The Call That Never Came

The first call came when Dad and I were browsing through Sam’s Club. The second interrupted our drive to admire the fall foliage. By the tenth call, I stopped counting.

The content of each conversation was always the same: “Your mother fell,” the aide from the memory-impaired unit of the nursing home would shout. “An ambulance is transporting her to the hospital. You need to come.” The consequences were also always the same. We found

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A History of Complications

A tonsillectomy at age nine that led to hemorrhaging and a return to the OR. An operation on four impacted wisdom teeth at age sixteen that kept me in a coma for three days. A hysterectomy at age thirty-six that involved the wound opening up, internal bleeding, and two additional hospital admits.

There’s more!

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The Ticking of Time

To celebrate my sixth birthday, my family and I traveled to Niagara Falls. Just before returning home, they gave me my present—my first grown-up watch. Although a simple piece of jewelry with its round face, black hands, and silver stretch band, I embraced it as if it were a rare gem.

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Food Fight

My name is Ronna, and I have an eating disorder.

Saying the words is easier than treating the disease. Change has never come easily to me. While my disorder is rooted in my past, it has flourished in the years since COVID infected the world.

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Taking Charge

I take Osher classes—courses designed for senior citizens—to exercise my mind. However, I had another reason for recently enrolling in a class on “Adapting to the New Normal”: a desire to improve my coping skills. When facing an upsetting situation, I typically cry, gobble bags of dark chocolate M&Ms, retreat from society, or sink into depression. Sometimes, I simultaneously do all four.

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The Power of Choice

Decades ago, an acquaintance gave birth to a son I will call Sam. Despite his handsome appearance, Sam suffered from multiple challenges: he was blind, deaf, mute, and incapable of walking or of self-care, and he lacked any brain activity or emotional connections. Sam spent his life—which lasted into adolescence—in a wheelchair, oblivious to the hours, dedication, and money his supportive parents spent on him. While I know that his three siblings felt sadness for

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When I entered elementary school in the 1950s, I practiced hiding under my wooden desk in case a Soviet bomb was dropped on my school. By the time I took early retirement as a teacher in 2003, I was leaving a middle school with a locked-door policy; the principal told us if we ever heard over the loudspeaker that “Mr. Lock” had entered the building, we should immediately lock our classroom doors and gather our

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The Stigma of Being an Emotional Woman

I didn’t need May’s “More Voices” theme as a prompt to reflect on the role sexism has played in my life: Two recent experiences had already done so. I just saw a touring-company production of To Kill a Mockingbird. At one point, Jem rebukes his younger sister, Scout, for showing emotion—accusing her of “becoming more like a girl every day.” Shortly after, my great-niece, a stellar high school sophomore, shared an essay she’d written on gender

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