At this holiday of homecoming and giving thanks, I want to thank the Obamas for giving all people the image of a wholesome and functional American family.
Through all of it, they have been an example for positive, enlightened living. I am always touched that Marian Shields Robinson, the mother of Michelle Obama, lives with them, is part of so many activities.
I have a friend in the White House press corps who sometimes travels with the President. He once told me there is an Obama rule, when possible: home by suppertime. Excursions to American cities are often planned with a mid-afternoon getaway, so the President can be at the table to ask, "So, how was your day?" That may have changed as the girls grew older, but his priority for family life was a factor for years.
I will miss having a President who can imitate Al Green, sing "Amazing Grace," and preside over his last medal ceremony with such eloquence and knowledge -- about athletes, about scientists, about pioneers.
Michelle Obama has been a passionate advocate for education, for women's rights, for exercise and healthy eating. And she always has her husband's back, as an equal. I look forward to her next acts, and those of their children. I hope they enjoy this Thanksgiving,
More and More, I Talk to the Dead--Margaret Renkl
NASHVILLE — After my mother died so suddenly — laughing at a rerun of “JAG” at 10 p.m., dying of a hemorrhagic stroke by dawn — I dreamed about her night after night. In every dream she was willfully, outrageously alive, unaware of the grief her death had caused. In every dream relief poured through me like a flash flood. Oh, thank God!
Then I would wake into keening grief all over again.
Years earlier, when my father learned he had advanced esophageal cancer, his doctor told him he had perhaps six months to live. He lived far longer than that, though I never thought of it as “living” once I learned how little time he really had. For six months my father was dying, and then he kept dying for two years more. I was still working and raising a family, but running beneath the thin soil of my own life was a river of death. My father’s dying governed my days.
After he died, I wept and kept weeping, but I rarely dreamed about my father the way I would dream about my mother nearly a decade later. Even in the midst of calamitous grief, I understood the difference: My father’s long illness had given me time to work death into the daily patterns of my life. My mother’s sudden death had obliterated any illusion that daily patterns are trustworthy.
Years have passed now, and it’s the ordinariness of grief itself that governs my days. The very air around me thrums with absence. I grieve the beloved high-school teacher I lost the summer after graduation and the beloved college professor who was my friend for more than two decades. I grieve the father I lost nearly 20 years ago and the father-in-law I lost during the pandemic. I grieve the great-grandmother who died my junior year of college and the grandmother who lived until I was deep into my 40s.
Some of those I grieve are people I didn’t even know. How can John Prine be gone? I hear his haunting last song, “I Remember Everything,” and I still can’t quite believe that John Prine is gone.
Jan. 30, 2023