Good news: A couple of days before Christmas I received word that Counterpoint, the press that published The Glen Rock Book of the Dead in 2008, will bring out a companion volume in the late fall of 2018. Like its predecessor, The Baltimore Book of the Dead is named for the place where it is being composed and will contain about 60 brief portraits of people who have died, all who have crossed my path in one way or another. (While it will contain some allusions to the terrible violence we have suffered in the city in recent years, it will not be the focus of the book.) I could not be happier about this much-wished-for turn of events and have spent the past two and a half months traveling in the world of the departed. Now I will spend several more.
Two days after Christmas, six years ago, my daughters and I traveled home to Vermont, to ring in the New Year with my parents. We settled into the cabin up the hill from their house and went down to say hello before bed. Dad was stretched out in a recliner in front of the fireplace. He’d been diagnosed with bone cancer about a year before, but he was doing well. He wasn’t in real pain, any more than the usual pains of a man who’d lived hard all his life, a man with lousy knees and stents in his heart, who’d tracked mountain lions in the Great West, split thousands of cords of wood, worked as a farmer and a firefighter, among other things, and had finally written, on a scrap of paper I found after he died, “My time is the only capital contribution I can make.”
Baltimore police this morning recovered a body floating in the Inner Harbor, the second one discovered there in the last week.
A woman who suddenly collapsed and fell severely ill after she was arrested by Baltimore police officers last week passed away today.
A 21-year-old Middle River man’s September death following a scuffle with Baltimore County police was an accident rather than a homicide, according to the state medical examiner’s office.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently parsed some macabre–but fascinating–data. Using state death data, they determined which causes of death were most “distinctive” on a state-by-state basis. To break this down a bit: All over the country, the leading causes of death (heart attack, accident, suicide, etc.) are the same. This particular data-crunching was looking for something else– causes of death that might not represent huge populations, but were significantly higher, statistically speaking, than in other states.
This New Year’s Eve, writer Lindsay Fleming remembers her father-in-law’s wit and wisdom, his whiskey sours and his elegant exit.
My father-in-law was famous for his whiskey sours. When your drink ran dry, he’d be quick to notice and urge a refill. If you hesitated, he’d settle it with the reminder, “No bird ever flew on one wing.” When he died, copies of his recipe were posted by magnet on the refrigerator at the family beach house. A backup was filed underneath the highball glasses in the art deco bar on the screened-in porch.
Baltimore writer Gay Jervey remembers her mother’s most enduring–and exciting–friendship.
Not long ago, I received the news that I had been dreading for months: Myra Shannonhouse, my honorary Godmother, ally and bridge to so much that had come to shape me, had died after the long, wrenching free fall that so frequently accompanies illness, old age and the kind of greedy bad luck that just won’t back down.