between the lines

my friend michael passed away yesterday. what an amazingly talented funny kind charming guy.
oh my god.
a few years ago he started a magazine, and i remember calling him and telling him — begging him – that i wanted to write for him. that i would do anything. it was a sexy magazine. sexy in terms of physical beauty. the cover art, the design layout, the photos, the art direction, it was glossy & sexy & beautiful. michael loved art and design and words and music and life. I loved writing for him.

he loved life.

and so yesterday after a long, hard, challenging life-battle, michael closed his eyes and he didn’t wake up. he leaves a gorgeous brilliant funny stupendous wife and two girls who will grow into great amazing stupendous women because of who their parents were and are. no doubt about it.

his life, every bit of it, was extraordinary. from the very simple & easy to the holy shit difficult & utterly complex. his life could fill book after book after book after book.

oh. life stories.

we were deciding on whether or not my mom should be moved one more rung up the assisted living ladder. on one of my last visits, i went to check out what was considered the “last stop” within the facility itself. it was designed like a dormitory – each room had two single beds and next to the beds were night tables and/or a small dresser, a recliner and/or a rocking chair tucked into the corner. a couple of paintings and photos hung on either side of the walls. most beds had railings so that none of the folks could fall easily out at night. the furnishings were sparse, the rooms tidy, the walls filled with one or two memories of that person on their side of the room. outside the room, on either side of the door, were glass cases filled with figurines, and hummel pieces, and various personal tchokches, and framed photos of family and friends – personal effects. next to the glass cases, hanging on the wall, were framed pieces of paper. written on each piece of paper was the name, an age and a life story. some were a full page long, some half a page, some were just a few lines. each informing you who that person was, lying in that single bed, sitting in that rocking chair, or listening to the radio as he or she reclined. the family and friends neatly arranged in each glass case.

one man was a car salesman. he loved baseball. he had two kids, a boy and a girl, and two grand kids. His wife died years earlier, and he had alzheimer’s.
a woman named becky was a beautician. she came from a very large family in the midwest. she had never married. she liked happy faces and loved the color yellow. she had dementia.
another man worked the railroads, lived in colorado, where he raised three girls and had twelve grandkids. one of his daughters was living with another woman who he referred to as his fourth daughter. he had alzheimer’s.
another man was a holocaust survivor. he loved chocolate, and his wife’s name was muriel.
each page told a brief story.
i’m sure most — not all — were written by relatives, or friends, remembrances of that life lived.
one life.
one page.
and as i walked up and down the hall, i couldn’t bare my mother becoming one page.

there was so much — so very much – to read and write and share between the lines.
over eighty some odd years of so very much.

and so, we didn’t move her up the ladder.

and yet as i write this, and think about it, i knew everything i needed to know about each person in each room. i mean, my god, just knowing that someone loved the color yellow tells me everything.

but still…

i believe, right now, in this moment – in memory of michael – that we are each, every one of us at least one (or two, or three, or four….) book worthy.

Category: Uncategorized 5 comments »

5 Responses to “between the lines”

  1. Hollye Dexter



    Is there maybe a much better place? Do you think? Because all the best of the best are being yanked outta here too soon. There must be a reason? God I hope so.

    So sorry for your loss Amy, but love that you are writing about him. And yes, let’s get our books out into the world before we become only one page.

  2. PamelaJo

    I lost two very dear friend to cancer. There lives could have filled volumes. I’ve lost cousins to AIDS. Who were more talented than a lot of singers you see now. I’ve lost a mother to quick heart attach before I could say good bye. And a mother in law to Alzheimer’s, which I think is one of the curliest ways to go. This Lady could have filled volumes on crafts, songs, nature, and family. She lost most of that before she left us. I understand what you are saying and I guess it is now up to those left behind to fill the books for them. We need to make sure that they are remembered for who they were and who we were with them. I just wish I could put it into words as well as you do.
    Just know there are a lot of us out here to back you up if you need it.

  3. Madge Woods

    Lovely story and a wonderful life lived and ended far too soon. I have seen books that ask grandparents or parents to write their lives down by answering questions pre-printed in the book. My ex mother-in-law did it as a gift to my sons when they were younger as did my father-in-law but their books survived after they died and my kids now have this wonderful memory book. I will have my blogs and my paintings. Maybe even facebook will hold memories if they can wind back that far. Something to think about for sure.

  4. kristine

    what we have is one day…today. It sounds like he lived his days with
    purpose and intention, love and authenticity. You mentioned his girls. We each leave a legacy…some that inspire, some that wound. They sound like they will be inspired by him for all of their days.

    thank you once again for helping us each see the beauty in the world around us.

  5. Barbara@The Middle Ages

    It’s so hard to reminded of the dark side of life’s circle through your loss and Hollye’s. So sad when they go too soon and leave too much.

    But did want to mention how touched I was by your story of the framed page outside every patient’s door. I know not nearly enough — but I have never seen or heard this done at all, so hats off to the gesture. And so many books might not be read, but these precious “pictures” might indeed be admired…

    Love and Support.

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