“Remember Graham Green’s dictum that childhood is the bank balance of the writer? I think that all writers feel alienated. Most of us go back to an alienated childhood in some way or another. I know that I do.” John le Carré, the late, British spy novelist.
I indeed write and I could not connect to my father, Harold. Men who don’t even know each other connect over sports. That was our sole connection. We frequently were at odds.
My father, lay in a hospital bed in his last year of life. He had Alzheimer’s and I don’t recall what else. The television above was blasting an Ohio State football game a month or two before the Ohio State vs. Michigan annual tussle.
That rivalry began in 1897 and continued uninterrupted from 1918 to 2020. Yes, stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harold was a Boy Scout usher at the opening of the Ohio State stadium in 1922 two weeks before that year’s continuation of the heated rivalry. Exactly 72 years later on the Mexican Day of the Dead, he died.
He and I rarely had a moment’s peace together. However, a highlight of my childhood was a trip in 1952 when, as a seven-year-old, I could attend a Buckeyes’ football game in Columbus with him. So much for good memories of Dad apart from our heated rivalry.
The Unwinding of the Miracle is a work about the richness of life and about facing our deaths directly, realistically and peacefully. The “Unwinding” is life’s process of dying. In this case we have a memoir of the last five years in this brilliant, Chinese-Vietnamese refugee’s miraculous life on which to focus.
The book is filled with beautiful memoirs about the richness and the agony of her last days as a Harvard law graduate with a lovely interracial marriage and two wonderful daughters, though legally blind since infancy. Materially we learn about her tremendous physicality prior to a stage IV (metastatic) cancer diagnosis. Emotionally we are privy to a difficult childhood and her reliance on her family, friends and psychotherapist through the cancer turmoil.
Spiritually, she believes in an afterlife, though not the Biblical view. She has some Buddhism in her spiritual life, though no specific religion is identified. Her husband is a Protestant who is a regular church attender. One of her daughters is particularly attracted to her father’s church. Her faith in God and a life after death have a substantive effect on her journey.
The book begins as we are told if we are reading her work; she has now passed away. In some sense, it is a lesson for all of us as we appreciate the heightened intensity of living one’s last days. It is a gripping beautiful work, to those who love the genre of memoir. It operates at a meaningful depth for the reader as in these last days Ms. Yip-Williams wastes no words.
Our Loss of a Great American Hero, Now, Almost Six Years Ago
It was December 8th, 2016, when we lost Senator John Glenn. He was an Ohioan as were the Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong of flight fame.
John Glenn was well known for attracting the fire of antiaircraft guns as a fighter pilot. He also guided a spacecraft into our atmosphere so as to avoid becoming a great ball of fire. Later evidence indicated the maneuvers weren’t needed because the instrument signal re the heat shield was inaccurate. Nevertheless, NOBODY knew that at the time.
On top of everything else, despite being a human guinea pig/test pilot, he lived to the ripe old age of 95. The late Tom Wolfe was crystal clear, he had The Right Stuff.
Now that’s protoplasm! But even more importantly, that extraordinary good fortune was the hand of God.