My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, October 23

Big Bang, Little Bang

One of the worst things about dying is possibly being in the middle of a good book when it happens. I think there’s a metaphor buried in there. I guess I must be considered to be in the last chapter or two, but even then, I’d still like to know how it ends. Not my life, dummy, how the book ends. Book ends. When the right one falls over, the books all tip that way. Messy. I hate tipped over books.

Last night, at that 3:00 a.m. time when the eyes pop open and stare at the clock for an hour or so, I thought again about my impending death, not that it’s pending any time soon, although it could, and probably will in the next few years. I thought about the Big Bang Theory. Not the tv comedy, but the theory itself, that the universe began with a bang, exploding outward from the center (and where, exactly, is the center?). The universe expanding, time and space stretching. And when it reaches the farthest point it can reach, out there touching the void, it will, like a giant balloon that’s reached its capacity, begin to deflate, start contracting, squeezing in on itself, time and space coalescing. Each of us is metaphorically just like that Big Bang, the bang happening at our birth, life then expanding outward as we grow into adulthood with all of life’s possibilities ahead of us. And then, sometime around forty, the air begins to go out of our balloon and our universe begins to contract. My mother, just before her death at 95, told me that all of her friends and acquaintances were gone, all her siblings and relatives, all the people she’d ever known and considered friends were gone. Gone. All the material things that were once so important to her were no longer important at all. All her paintings were passed on to one grandchild or another, all her furniture and jewelry were assigned to one child or grandchild or another until the only thing left to her was her death. She kept getting tinier and tinier until her death. I kept thinking that one day she’d just vanish in a tiny puff of smoke. She was lucky to hold onto her mind all the way. I can think of no worse way to go than to lose the mind as well as the body. My sister-in-law Phyllis exemplifies the latter. Her universe kept shrinking and shrinking, her voice going higher and higher getting squeakier and squeakier. And then that awful place to which one goes when the mind and body contract, that awful “old folks” home where the inhabitants sit around the halls in wheelchairs, waiting through endless days for the next meal or for someone to put them to bed, sleep being the only refuge from their daily horrors, sleep with garbled, meaningless dreams. We watched Phyllis go through this contraction until finally, blessedly, one morning she just didn’t wake up.

I can see my universe contracting. I’m the last of my tribe, all siblings now gone, all cousins on both sides now gone. And when I tally up my friends and classmates, the number keeps shrinking. I inventory my possessions, all the things I thought were so important, and know now that their value is slipping toward zero. I consider all the words I’ve written—the novels, essays, song lyrics, and the mountain of journal entries—and wonder if any of my children will even want them, ever read them. Probably not. But I find that I care less and less if that’s the case. Like I said above, I’m not in the middle of a good book, more nearly the conclusion, maybe the dénouement, but I’d still like to see how it ends.
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