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April 18, 2014
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River Muse

Downsizing for the future

“I don’t want to end up like my father,” my Narrowsburg neighbor tells me. His 98-year-old father lives alone in his own home, reliant on family to bring him meals and keep him company. His life savings went to pay for nursing home care for his ailing wife and he retired from yard work last year at age 97.  Read more

One man’s legacy

At first my uncle Hal was just the one my aunt was marrying—essential, almost peripheral, enigmatic. No one could match her in beauty, so he matched her in intellect. An intellect of physics, an appreciation of ballet and opera to match her yen for Yeats and Jung. But I didn’t know any of that at five years of age, when they married. To me, he was the husband. I didn’t know why she needed him, but I got that it was important. He was awkward and mostly silent, not glib like the rest of our family. He wore thick glasses and his hair in a brush cut. I almost didn’t see him in the glare of the rest of our family—raucous and laughing, well-oiled. But by the time my step-father had disappeared, he was still there and now a father himself. His whole being seemed to swell with the creation of his family.  Read more

Artist seeks work

As I am writing this, my daughter is having a nervous breakdown about finding a job after college. I am trying to ignore the caterwauling emanating from her room. I am on deadline, after all. This, of all the work I do in the world, is the one I am paid for dependably. Still, I can’t help feeling her pain and wanting it to stop.  Read more

At the mercy of others

Sixty is the new 50, they say. We boomers are growing old gracefully. Those of us lucky enough to have escaped the plagues of AIDS, drugs and rock ‘n roll are rocking our post-middle-age. Having spent the three months leading up to my 60th birthday visiting my aunt in a rehabilitation center, I am ready to consider a gym membership, make that colonoscopy appointment and meet with a financial advisor toute de suite. The reality of what can happen to a body in a split second has hit me like a blocked artery.  Read more

Beautiful work

“Beautiful work,” says the beautiful woman who shakes my hand with two-handed sincerity at the end of a recent audition. I carry her praise home with me down Eighth Avenue through throngs of middle-aged men in hockey jerseys on their way to the Garden, into the subway where the temperature is always two days behind the street weather, and finally up two flights of stairs into my apartment before realizing her praise was a consolation prize. I would not be getting the part but I did “beautiful work.”  Read more

A house on B Street

With my aunt in recovery from a recent stroke, and her husband in the hospital, her children were faced with the prospect of completing the impending sale of their summer home on Fire Island.  Read more

Activities of daily living

My uncle’s home health aide is there to assist him with “ADL”—activities of daily living. It was a term I was blithely ignorant of before my aunt had a stroke earlier this month. He is in his mid-80s with multiple health problems. She is younger and not the one we were worried about. But the toll of caring for an older spouse—or a younger one who is infirm—is dear. She lost 60 pounds in a year and a half, and she never was a candidate for one of those reality shows about obesity.  Read more

A grateful Cassandra

Some people experience emotion more deeply than others. When our daughter was four, she would often collapse in a fit of discomfort because her socks didn’t “feel right.” I’m happy to report that, as a college senior, she has the sock issue under control. But a slant word of criticism from an older brother can still send her reeling with self-doubt.  Read more

Future forward

Christmas is over. The welcome gifts are already in use—earrings, a museum membership, electric teakettle. A bag of paper awaits recycling. Books are piled high awaiting free time and curious minds. The tree lights still twinkle. There is no snow.  Read more

Coping in the new economy

In this flailing economy, I have been searching for a semi-solid investment—something to see me through my semi-retirement years. I think I found it.

It has easily sourced raw materials, bio-degradable packaging and multiple applications. And so far, it’s legal.  Read more