It’s what you leave behind you when you go

I observed so many humbling moments, bizarre conversations and quiet acts of dignity and kindness that I took notes, knowing I had to do something with what I was witnessing.

Sense of Decency

Photo © Michelle Gabel 2008.

By JIM McKEEVER

Ten years ago, during the welcoming ceremony for incoming students at my youngest son’s college, a speaker read a poem that ends with a question.

Many of you will recognize it, perhaps have claimed it as a mantra.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Since that day I have been a fan of Mary Oliver, buying and borrowing books to visit and revisit her poems — “Wild Geese,” “The Summer Day,” “The Journey” and many others.

How does one reply to Oliver’s question? (Or is it a challenge, a dare?)

Long before I had heard of Oliver, my answer was taking shape.

In 2003, I took three months of Family Leave to help my mother move into a nursing home. She would remain there for the next 3 1/2 years —…

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