June 6, 1944 -- Fred

June 6, 1944 -- Fred

It seemed an impossible coincidence. Ghostly even.

It was June 5, 1994. For several days I had been sick and banished to the attic room in our house in Akron, Ohio; quarantined, as it were. The world was approaching the 50th anniversary of D-Day and the TV was filled with stories and remembrances and old grainy footage and images. By Saturday, June 4, my mind was overtaken with a fever-induced fantasy of seeing my father amongst the black and white images of the beaches, of the French towns, the visages of pain and fear and hardship of that day.

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Sally

Sally

My favorite time to call my Mom was at night when I was doing the dishes. I hate washing the dishes and to me, checking in with her was the best possible diversion. So, phone crooked between my neck and shoulder, I got a chore done and, well, listened.

My Mom was a talker. People say that about me, but I'm not even in the same league as my Mom. My Mom could talk about any subject whatsoever. And what was amazing about her, is that in the course of her conversation -- particularly with a stranger -- she could find out their entire life history yet you'd swear the other person never got a word in edgewise.

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Sarah

Sarah

Sarah Gibson Blanding, a native of Kentucky, was the first woman president of Vassar College. She was a visionary. In 1946 she admitted male GIs to the school, she strengthened the arts departments, built new buildings and in the early 1960s picketed a Woolworth's because they wouldn't let blacks eat at their lunch counters. In college, during the summers, I worked in her gardens and learned about Faulkner and Welty, weeding and lilacs. Mostly I learned about friendship.

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Lili

Lili

This story, of my youngest daughter when she was a little over two years old went viral, as they say, when it was first posted on cowbird.com, a wonderful photo story site created by Jonathan Harris. The story brought me some heartfelt and unusual responses including a letter from one woman who said that she named her daughter after mine hoping that her daughter “will have the same life energy as yours.”

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