A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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Andrew Ramer was first published in The Sun in January 1988. He lives in Menlo Park, California.
This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages.
What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.
Though we haven’t devoted the whole issue to the anniversary, we have allowed the section to grow beyond our original plans. After seeing the pieces, we felt that our readers would enjoy them as much as we did — for the information about the magazine’s history, for the glimpses into the writers’ lives, and (not least) for the quality of the writing.
Two weeks ago I turned forty-six. Four lovers and numerous friends and family have so far died before me. By most estimates I am closer to my death than to my birth.
Shortly before her stroke, she broke up with a lover younger than my brother and I. That was Mom. Born at home in Brooklyn during the Depression, she did group therapy with murderers by day, and by night maintained a small private psychiatric practice.
I saw Bobby the day before he died. Propped up beneath a plastic oxygen tent, he begged for a cigarette. I went across the street to a newspaper stand and bought him a pack, even though I don’t smoke and don’t think anyone should. Closing the door to his room, I turned off the oxygen and lit one for him.
A thousand stars, a billion. Thundering silence. It’s Tom who reaches over. He puts his hand on my chest and says, “I wish we had more grass,” and leaves it there. Till I curl up beside him.
I liked my truck. I liked to put all my blocks in the back and cart them from room to room. But I loved Merry’s doll.
I live alone. Other men might be lonely. But who can notice what might be absent when other things are present?
as a small child, i did not know how to unzip myself. my parents never talked about it. when i was fourteen my father “accidentally” left out a book on his desk called “what to tell your child about unzipping.”