Memento Mori


Memento Mori

According to my Grandiloquent Wall Calendar, Memento Mori Day was January 3rd. A good time, I think – the New Year’s hangover eased, a few days into January for those resolutions to have weakened, and life almost back to normal.

Memento Mori – “Remember, you must die.”

Well, yes, I do, most of the time, though I don’t think it’s wise to keep it top of mind.  Is it a serious thought? Yes. Is it depressing? It can be. BUT, it can serve as a wakeup call to live, to appreciate each day that we have, especially for those of us who have more yesterdays than tomorrows.

This week I made a New Year’s Resolution call to an old friend, a dear friend. She and I have known each other for many decades, experienced highs and lows together that will most likely, at least I hope, not return. We knew each other as few, if any did. And I use the past tense purposely. For, yes, it is that we knew each other. Oh, I still know her. And she remembers me, sort of. She knows my name, my voice, most likely not my face. But her memories of our times together, our experiences, have gone into that nether world of dementia. And so, a part of my past has vanished as well.

She is happily demented, I would say, a layperson’s assessment of her life. She laughs, and tells me that she has many friends. I hope she is right. Only once, several years ago now, when she was first diagnosed, when her lucid moments outpaced her clouded ones, did she talk about what it meant to say goodbye. Goodbye to me, to her memories, to her past. “I can’t remember shit, Cyn,” she said, laughing and crying at the same time. And I was silent. She knew me then. No longer does she remember that she can’t remember.

And so, dear reader, as we begin this new year, let us “remember, you must die,” and pay attention, appreciate every hour that we have. Let’s seize the day, as the posters say. Let’s figure out exactly what that means, for each of us. Use the good silver, the china that was our great-great grandmother’s. Wear that velvet cape that lays in the attic wrapped in tissue paper. Figure out what’s important and hold on to it. Call the friend who knew you when. Make peace with some of your demons. But keep others around to remind you that you’re real.

Memento mori – I’ll drink to that – the good bourbon this time.

Another Sunday,

On Father’s Day

glass baltimore

I had many topics cover this week, but somehow, this poem, written several years ago, on this Father’s Day, seemed to call to me.


Dumas, pere

Cognac brown, soft, consoling.

I tilt the decanter to the glass,

the heavy one with the scene

 of downtown Baltimore

etched in black and real gold,

probably 24 carat.

Not to be put into the dishwasher,

though I do.

A golden bourbon in an exquisite glass.

And behind glass, leather-bound books,

a special occasion to touch.

Before I even know the title

I open, smell and riffle the pages,

A sound like bourbon, poured from the decanter.

Alexander Dumas, one of my dad’s favorites,

The Three Musketeers,

Athos, Porthos, not D’Artagnan.

Who is the third?

He would be disappointed

 that I could name

only two.

I return to my chair,

book and bourbon in hand,

to find the third musketeer’s


And remember Fa sitting in our library,

bourbon in hand, reading,

perhaps The Three Musketeers.