Essays

Seeing Cancer

When a friend took me along recently to the reading of a play, she was later asked, “Was your friend sitting next to you at the theater the one with cancer?” As Victoria has many friends likely to accompany her to a play, I wondered what it was about me that had given the impression I was “the one with cancer.”

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Cancer Personals

Five years ago I decided to try my luck at placing a personal ad in a local entertainment magazine. Headings for placing ads included Women Seeking Men, Men Seeking Women, Men Seeking Men, Women Seeking Women, and the very optimistic I Saw You for those seeking romance with someone talked to once…

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Just Beyond the Door

It’s been decades since my body last felt the press of imminent danger through the thinness of a door. On one cold, moonless January night in a Minnesota town on the Canadian border, I entered the front door of a friend’s empty dark house and heard what I thought might be the sounds of a hungry wolf roaming out back in the alley.

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Are You Having Fun?

My father loved a carnival. He loved any event that included clowns, noise, streamers, and cheap prizes. He loved church festivals, Fourth of July celebrations, and the surrounding rural small town annual parades. Kolacky Days in Montgomery, Corn on the Cob Days in Belle Plaine, Dairy Days in Prior Lake, and New Prague’s Crazy Days…

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The Valentine Letters

Yesterday I wrote two letters, one to each of my sons. When I finished writing the letters, I folded them three ways, slipped them into clean white envelopes, and licked the sealing glue. On the outside of the envelopes I wrote my sons’ names before tucking both letters into a file folder containing my property deeds, life insurance policies, and beneficiary papers.

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Past Lives

Crippled Helen wasn’t my first pretend past life, but it was one past life that lasted an entire childhood summer. Every day at noon I’d limp up and down the long gravel hill that served as our farm’s driveway to get the family mail. I imagined myself to be this other, older girl who had lost the use of her left leg and yet, in spite of this impairment, bravely made her way…

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Address: Six Inches Under the Tiger Lilies

Much has been recorded over the millenniums about attempted correspondence with the dead. In nearly every culture some form of clairvoyance, vision seeking, dream interpreting, or other types of psychic powers have been called upon by individuals seeking to receive messages from the recent or long since deceased.

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Afterword by Kathleen Coskran

Along with the gift of these essays, Dorothy offered her friends another great gift, a gift that became a profound lesson and a tender connection: she asked us to care for her. In late June of 2008, she called a meeting of 21 friends. She was just home from a rough week at the hospital, very rough, and was beginning home hospice care.

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