In honor of the Day of the Dead, we re-post this favorite column from our archives, originally posted October 30, 2013.
Drape a small table with a cloth in the favorite color of the person you loved who has died. Adorn it with candles, flowers (marigolds are traditional) and framed photographs. Set out some favorite foods: a slice of pie, a bottle of beer, a Milky Way. Add the instruments of their hobbies and vices: a pack of Newports, a deck of cards, a banjo. A People magazine, a racquet, a Terrible Towel. A copy of Peter Pan, of The Joy of Cooking, of the Bible.
I heard over the holidays that my college advisor, a Russian History professor named Abbott Gleason, known as Tom, died on Christmas Day after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. The fact that I took even a single history course in college, much less ended up a history major, was completely this man’s doing.
University of Baltimore MFA student Jessica Welch tells a harrowing (yet not unhappy) story of bad dogs, good mothers and great friendship.
I met Mary Patelli when I was five. Our mothers were ICU nurses together, both divorced, both in co-dependency meetings. Our families lived around the corner from each other in the suburbs of Baltimore. I saw her nearly every day; we vacationed together in the summer. We shared mothers.
Baltimore writer Caryn Coyle says goodbye to her war hero father, but finds he’s at her side in striking ways.
When my father died, I was holding his hand. I could feel the Marine Corps ring that he always wore on the third finger of his right hand. The ring has a large ruby, set in gold with globes of the world etched on both sides. Two eagles — wings spread — are perched on each globe. Because the ring is worn, stars that circle the eagles and globes have almost disappeared.
University of Baltimore MFA student Ellen Hartley found her truest love affair in a most unexpected way — through an equally emotional loss.
It began with a phone call.
Ellen, I’ve got dreadful news. Helen died yesterday. It was Myra, the sister of my best friend from music camp 40 years earlier. I didn’t even know she’d been sick; over the years we’d lost touch. I knew only that she lived on Long Island and had four children. I was shocked and angry I hadn’t gotten to say goodbye.
University of Baltimore MFA student Ian Anderson remembers his teenage summers at the beach with friends who were like brothers until they couldn’t be any longer.
I was sitting on the step in the garage of Greene’s Bike Rental with my summer friends, Dominic and Marty. Dominic was a year younger than me, wearing a long, white t-shirt and gym shorts—his uniform. Marty was a year older than me, but the shortest and with the kindest face. We were waiting for the cops to show up. Mr. Greene assured us the cops were coming, and our parents. I was 14 years old, an age whenangry parents are infinitely worse than anything the judicial system can offer. Mr. Greene kept walking around the garage, cursing, coming back to us, saying, “you little shits,” and then walking around again. I was scared. I think Marty and Dominic were, too, but they didn’t show it, so I didn’t either. The garage door was open, framing a blue sky with cotton candy clouds, the kind you see on postcards. The wind was coming in off the sea, cooling the streets of Wildwood, where my family rented an apartment above my grandmother’s beach house every summer. It was a beautiful day outside, but we were in the garage.
University of Baltimore MFA graduate Oakley Julian wanted to introduce her serious boyfriend to her entire family — with one matriarchal exception…
I did not expect for my family in South Carolina to meet my boyfriend until Thanksgiving, but with the unexpected death of my father in August, my timetable was slightly altered, to say the least.
Everyone knew of Jesse’s existence, but I had intentionally withheld his demographic information both because I saw his being black as a non-issue and because I felt that offering any sort of silly disclaimer would shine an unnecessary spotlight, thus making it an issue.
On a cold, early winter evening, I peeked in the coop to check on the chickens. As usual, five of them were snuggled up next to each other on the roost, a tree branch my boyfriend, Jared, had affixed to the wall of the coop. But one, the jet-black Ameraucana we named Thing (because of the silly fuzzy feathers on her face), had been left out. She was huddled alone in the corner on the coop floor, below the other chickens: the spot reserved for the last in the pecking order.
University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik returns from a tragic funeral with a heavy heart and hectic mind.
There was nothing that could be done, said the policeman at her door to my friend Nancy last Sunday. By this he meant, your 20-year-old daughter died in a traffic accident on her way to work at the mall this morning. Are you here alone? he asked. Is there someone I can call to come over? That was all she needed to hear. She ran across the street and collapsed on the neighbor’s kitchen floor.