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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Surviving The Fall

A Physician Comes Of Age

In the beginning, what struck me most was how many young fathers were dying. First in ones and twos, then in swelling numbers, a succession of men in their thirties came into the hospital, struggled briefly, and died.

Goodbye, Johnnie Walker

Until recently, I hadn’t gone to bed sober in twenty-five years. I was a drunk when I first met my wife of twenty-three years, and I have been one ever since. I have been a pretty good drunk, as drunks go, without the usual DWIs, abusive behavior, or too dear a price paid for being too honest after my seventh or tenth drink. I am a flirt when drunk but have never been unfaithful.

Where Life Begins

This spring I am almost thirty-nine, the cut-off age for success with most infertility treatments. Under thirty, thirty to thirty-four, thirty-nine and under, forty and up — these age categories used to seem so arbitrary, but now the startling difference in success rates between the last two is a measure of how much hope I have left.


Naked Before Strangers

My first strip jobs were down in Chicago, secretarial pools and bachelorette parties where the girls squealed and ran their hands along my abs and up over my pecs. My old man would shit one of his very own bricks if he ever found out what I do. All my life he’s been saying, “Get an education. Move up. Don’t spend your life slinging bricks and mortar like me.” But it’s safer than my last job, as a bouncer; pays better, too. Before I started stripping, I was always behind on my med-school tuition.

The Lap Of Luxury

Russell was telling the three of us — Melody, Leigh, and me — about the last moments of his mother’s life. The three of us were crying, but Russell wasn’t. His face was pale, not his usual ruddy hue that made him look as if he’d just come in from jogging a few miles. His brown eyes seemed more deeply set in his face. Perhaps that was his grief, I thought, or maybe it was just the way he was aging now, out of boyhood, into his late twenties.


Photographs By Bob Bayles

My father was diagnosed with cancer near his seventieth birthday, in September, and passed away the following April. During his illness, I made four trips back home to Westville, Illinois, where both my parents were born and raised.

July 1998
Readers Write


In 1948 my parents immigrated to Canada from war-ravaged Hungary. Grateful to have been accepted into the country, they embraced all things Canadian. The only exception was their Hungarian doctors, two surgeons regarded as gods in the Hungarian immigrant community.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


“Some people think that doctors and nurses can put scrambled eggs back into the shell.”

Dorothy Canfield Fisher

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