Happy International Day of Peace

I’ve been scrolling through my Facebook feed, checking to see what is happening in the online world. Most people seem to be experiencing momentous events, passages, tragedies and triumphs. But not me. Not today.

No one in my little household died. No one got sick. No one has a birthday or an anniversary. No one had an accident. No one was born. I didn’t adopt a dog or take a cat to the vet. I didn’t get a job or lose one. I didn’t go to the beach or cruising on a lake. I won no awards. Didn’t get a fabulous review of one of my books (not even a bad one). I didn’t travel to far away lands or even close ones, for that matter. I didn’t cook anything special.

All I did was a few minor chores around the house, looked after my father’s needs, and relaxed. It was the perfect way to spend the International Day of Peace — at peace.

Wishing you peace, not just today but every day.

peacesign

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Blogging and Disloyalty

Sometimes I feel disloyal blogging about all the problems I have with my family’s various infirmities, whether physical or mental, as if I am betraying them, my father and brother especially. And yet, these problems are the same ones other people are struggling with — aged parents and dysfunctional siblings or offspring. It’s in talking of these matters that we discover how un-unusual the problems are — we all have seem to have the care of someone thrust on us, disrupting our lives.

Some people have to deal with various other problems, of course, such as caring for a spouse’s infirmities, but I don’t have much to say about such matters since my coupled days are behind me.

While my life mate/soul mate was dying, I seldom talked privately and never publicly about his decline or the problems it caused me — that truly would have felt like a betrayal, as if I were exposing him or as if I were talking about matters that did not belong to me. To cope, I simply drew within and continued to live as best as I could. His death catapulted me out of that state, enatugofwarbling me to launch my angst-ridden cry into cyberspace. I’m not sure he would have approved of my being so open about my feelings, but by then, he no longer had a say in my life. Besides, my grief belonged to me alone.

I doubt I will ever feel that intense loyalty again, which is good. I no longer want or am able to live in the empty spaces in my soul.

Last night I blogged out my frustration with my father’s panic attack and the mindlessly mean way he acted. It enabled me to sleep peacefully (well, sort of) last night and wake up encouraged enough to go on.

The time is coming, perhaps soon, when my father can no longer be allowed to have his way about staying alone when I am out of the house, but despite the minor emergency last night, I’m inclined to let things remain as they are awhile longer. He is terrified of losing control, and he is someone who has always had to have steely control — of himself, his family, his surroundings. (You’d think I’d take delight in this gradual erosion of his control, considering how domineering he was in my youth, but I find no joy in watching his decline.)

Still, disloyal or not, I will need to continue blogging about my problems as life and death persist with their game of tug of war. It’s a matter of my survival.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Killing My Father

Some days are just more than I can handle. Well, not the whole day. I took dance classes today, and that was as wonderful as always. Everything was even fine when I got back to the house. My father was up, seemed content, so I told him I’d be gone all day next Thursday and Friday, and into the evening on Friday. He was okay with that, but when I asked if he would be okay if I went to the Sierra group walk for a while tonight, he got upset with me for leaving him alone. Then I noticed he was gasping for breath.

I went to check his oxygen concentrator machine, and it didn’t seem to be working — the regulator ball was at zero. My father came and pushed me away from the machine (he still has a lot of strength for a 97-year-old man). He was all in a panic, pushing buttons, turning the machine off and on, twisting the regulator knob, and he refused to go sit down so I could check out the machine. Finally, I steered him away from the machine, told him he was panicking from loss of oxygen, and rather sternly told him to just lie still while I got the problem taken care of.

wind“I don’t want to die,” he kept screaming, and at one point, “you’re killing me.” (Not sure why he said that. Maybe because I wasn’t moving fast enough to suit him. The truth is, he is fine without oxygen for several hours. He simply panicked.)

Meantime, I called hospice, who called the oxygen people. When I told my father the oxygen people were going to call me back, he got mad and said I was supposed to call “hostage.” I explained I did call hospice, and they were the ones who called the oxygen supplier. I finally got him calmed down enough so I could go get the temporary tank from another room and set it up for him. Now we’re waiting for a replacement tank (or maybe just new tubing — I didn’t see any kinks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any).

Considering his panic, I asked if he was still willing to be left alone during those two days next week. I said I could ask my sister to come back, and he refused to let me ask her, just said to leave the emergency tank set up. It’s not possible to leave the tank set up — such a tank holds only four hours of oxygen, and if it was set up, it would be out of oxygen by the time he needed it. He said he was still able to remember fundamentals such as how to work a machine once it was explained to him, and I didn’t say anything. Under normal circumstances, it could be true, but when he is panicked, thinking he is going to die from lack of oxygen, I have my doubts.

But it’s still his choice . . . for now.

(An hour later: The machine is fine — it turned out the electric socket is dead. My father is fine too. It turned out I did not kill him.)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Back to Living a Quiet Life of . . . I Don’t Know

My sister, who has been here helping look after our 97-year-old father, left this morning, and shortly after she took off for places unkown, I went to dance class, leaving him alone. When I checked on him upon my return, he didn’t seem to have been affected by either of our absences, just went about his life as usual.

I’ve lost track of how many times he’s seemed to be at the end of his life, prompting me to plan my immediate future. The first time, I planned a cross-country trip to promote my books. I started gathering the promotional materials, even went so far as to roadwrite all the independent bookstores in the country. He returned to his normal self, scotching my plans, which was just as well — I got such an abysmal response to my USPS mail campaign, that I lost all interest in visiting the bookstores in person. (I didn’t send just a Hi-I’m-an-author-buy-my-books promo. I sent gift certificates for ebooks and offered to interview each of the storeowners for my interview blog to help promote their stores. Not one responded.)

The second time, I planned to walk to Seattle, either via the Pacific Crest Trail or the various coastal trails. (California, Oregon, and Washington all have a coastal trail in the process of completion.) I spent weeks trying to figure out the logistics of such a trip, taking into consideration my age, the state of my fitness, and the prodigious amounts of water and other supplies I would have to haul. Just about the time I realized how improbable (if not impossible) such a trip would be for me, my father got better.

There were a few other quickly aborted plans during some of his short down times, such as my getting a teardrop trailer, perhaps, or renting a room in a house to make it easier to continue taking dance classes. During this last near-death turn of events, I didn’t even bother to plan (though I did have a few nights of panic when I realized I have no idea how or why or where I will live after I leave here). I finally understood the futility of expecting or fearing anything when it comes to such a tenacious old man. And sure enough, he’s dragged himself back to life.

One of my siblings suggested putting him in a nursing home, but there is no reason for such an action. He’s on hospice, so I have help when/if I need it, though he has refused to wear a medical alert bracelet that would connect him to hospice in an emergency and he has refused to have someone come stay with him when I’m gone. Still, I’m only out of the house about twenty-four hours a week (you know where I am a lot of that time — dance class!). I keep my phone with me when I’m away, and I’m in the house all night every night. (And if he gets worse, my sister has promised to come back.)

Now that both my dysfunctional brother and helpful sister are gone, I’m back to living a quiet life of . . . I don’t know. Waiting, perhaps, though I’m not sure what I’m waiting for. Maybe my own life, whatever that might be, though for now, this is my life. Or more precisely, dancing is my life, and being here for my father allows me to continue taking dance classes.

At least he’s still alive. To be honest, the thought of perhaps having to live for a few days with a dead body in the house creeps me out.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

In the Presence of Death…

When one is dealing with the dying or the very old, one ends up having some strange discussions. The most bizarre conversation came about on Tuesday afternoon. The hospice social worker was here to discuss various matters and to bring us current on the procedures hospice has already taken care of and to let us know what they will doing in the future.

To me, one of the greatest benefits of hospice is that no matter what happens or what you need, there is but a single phone call to make — to hospice. Hospice does the rest. The social worker reminded me of this and said to notify them when my father was gone, and they will call the designated mortuary and arrange for the body to be picked up.

RIPI knew hospice performed that service, of course, but this is where things got weird. “Since this is a private home and not an institution,” the social worker said, “according to the law, the mortuary has up to a week to collect the body.”

“A week?” I all but shrieked. It seemed impossible that a body could be allowed to remain in a private residence for so long. At the very least, it has to be insanitary. “But what do we do about . . . ?” Since my father was sitting right there, I didn’t want to put my concerns into words, but the woman understood I was referring to smells and decomposition.

“There shouldn’t be a problem for a week,” she said. “Just close his door. If you’re worried, you can always pack ice around the limbs. That will help.”

My first thought was relief that we have so many gel-packs stored away. My second thought was a bit of macabre humor: so my father is lying there, ice packs around his slowly decomposing body. And what would I do? Go to dance class, of course.

I truly doubt I’ll have to deal with a body in the house for a week. When my mother died, this same mortuary arrived within three hours, even though they are 121 miles away. But yes, if my father lay here dead for a week, I would continue with my dance classes.

It makes sense, of course. My presence would have no effect on him, he would have no need of my help, and there wouldn’t be much for me to do since another sister is in charge of funeral arrangements. But still, the thought of dancing with a dead body in the house does seem a bit coldhearted, and I’m sure people would be appalled.

And yet . . . when else should one dance? If dancing is life, and life is dancing, then it is in the presence of death that we need dance the most.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

When Elvis Kissed Me

Elvis tribute artistI was invited to a luncheon today where Elvis was scheduled to appear, so of course I went. Elvis sang several songs, made a few self-deprecating jokes, and threw trinkets to the delighted audience. I was sitting right up front, and when he started to sing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” he came and took my hand, looked me in the eyes, and sang to me. Then he kissed my hand and moved on.

For just that moment, I was young again, starry-eyed at the attention of an idol. The singer wasn’t Elvis, of course, but he is a celebrity in his own right — one of the top three Elvis tribute artists in the world. And I was never that young, never awed by the presence of stardom. But today, caught up in the fantasy, the moment seemed magical.

My only real experience with celebrity came when I was very young. A friend wanted to go to the airport to see the Beatles, and her mother would only let her go if I went too. (I was always the responsible one, which now seems a bit pathetic for such a little girl, but I didn’t know any other way to be. Still don’t.) I didn’t want to go, had no interest in the Beatles, didn’t want to be her chaperon, and didn’t want to deal with a taxicab (her mother, like mine, didn’t drive), but finally she hounded me into asking my mother. I agreed, knowing my mother would say no as she always did and I would be off the hook. To my shock and horror, my mother said yes. And I was stuck.

My mother always accused me of being naïve, but now I see that in many ways she was the naïf. She hadn’t a clue what “taking a taxi to see the Beatles at the airport” meant or else she would never have said yes. But I knew. At least I thought I did, but the reality was beyond my meager imagination.

Originally, the Beatles were to land at Stapleton International Airport, but when the crowds of onlookers grew to a horde, the landing was moved to Buckley Field. We stood outside the chain link fence, the press of kids keeping me immobile against that barrier between us and the icons. In the distance, I could hear first murmurs then shrieks from the crowd as the car drew near. It must have been a convertible, because I can clearly remember seeing Paul’s face before I was all but crushed between the fence and the frenzied crowd. I would have been pulled under, but luckily I kept a strong grip on the links. As the vehicle passed us, everyone ran after it but me. I stood immobile, terrified by the power of the mob. My friend (who wasn’t much of a friend, if you must know) ran with the crowd. And soon I was the only one left standing.

I have no idea how I got home that day. (At the time, obviously, I knew, but I’ve forgotten.) I imagine someone took pity on me and called my mother or my friend’s mother. (I was in a panic because I was responsible for the girl, and I’d lost her.) I know I took a cab back.

I have made a point of never being in a crowd again. Oh, my, such a wild, uncontrollable beast! (The crowd, not me.)

But today, there were only two or three dozen of us — no mob — and it was sweet, especially when Elvis kissed me.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What Hospice is and What Hospice is Not

With as prevalent as hospice has become, many people still don’t know what it is. It is not a place; it is not round-the-clock nursing services; and especially it is not a way of hastening the end for people with incurable diseases.

In my experience, hospice is a type of expanded nursing service, providing support — medical, emotional, and practical — for patients and their families admitted to the service. (This may or may not be the mission of hospice — it is merely my impression and how I have used the services offered.) Although a large percentage of people on hospice are cancer patients who have less than six months to live, many people are on the service for several years — since hospice is about palliative care rather than curative treatment, many people suffering from incurable diseases are admitted to the service.

Hospice does not provide drugs intended to cure, but they provide medications to help make people comfortable, such as breathing treatments, diuretics, morphine for pain and breathing difficulties. (This drug service pleases me — it saves me the aggravation of having to deal with my father’s drug provider, especially when it comes to the breathing treatment. It’s expensive and they won’t pay for it, so they have to go through Medicare, which takes months. With hospice, I’ll get it within a week.)

cleanHospice is especially good for those who want to die at home, who have no ability or energy to visit their doctors at their offices, or who don’t want to have to deal with hospitals any more. (Often the “curative” care given in a hospital is taxing to a person on the edge of life, particularly when the doctors are trying to treat an untreatable disease, and in many cases, the patients are worse off when they leave than when they entered.) With hospice, patients still are technically under the auspices of a doctor, though most visits are from nurses and health aids. Other services are available with hospice, such as social worker and chaplain, in case either the patient or the family needs to talk. And there is respite care, generally a five-day stay in a hospice care center for the patient, to give the family member who is a caregiver a respite. (Jeff, my life mate/soul mate was admitted to a hospice care center for five days to give me a chance to catch up on my sleep. I didn’t sleep much at all while he was there, so it was a bit of a waste. Even worse, he never came home. He died on the fifth day.)

I am now going through my third experience with hospice, this time with my father. (My mother was first, Jeff second.) Oddly, I am in the strange position of having to reel in the juggernaut of hospice. They are geared up for the end, calling in a priest for an emergency visitation for my father, setting up all sorts of unnecessary services such as multiple visits from nurses (though there is nothing for them to do), offering me counseling services, sending cases of Ensure he will not drink. (Actually, he will drink it, but I won’t let him. He drinks the Ensure Plus, which offers more calories than the regular, and since Ensure is about his only source of nutrition and calories, and since he doesn’t want to drink six regular Ensure a day instead of the four Ensure Plus, I’m still buying the Plus to make sure he doesn’t starve.)

The reason we’re getting too many services too soon might be in the paperwork — in the submission papers, my father’s doctor said he had prostate cancer and had six months to live. Apparently his congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease aren’t killing my father, but the truth is, neither is his prostate cancer. He’s had it for many years, and the urologist laughed it off, saying to come back when my father’s PSA readings are in the thousands instead of in the teens.

Still, my father has lost a lot of weight (that dang hospital stay!), so he’s a good candidate for hospice. It’s a comfort knowing that hospice is there if I need them. It gives me someone to call in an emergency. Gives my father the sense that someone in authority (rather than just me) is trying to get him to keep up his breathing treatments and to eat a bit. Gives him an alternative to going to the hospital.

25% percent of people admitted to hospice care die within the first four days for the simple reason that doctors themselves aren’t familiar enough with hospice to understand the service and so wait until the patients are too debilitated from “treatment” to benefit from hospice. On the other hand, more than a third of people admitted to hospice live long beyond the date of their expected demise because palliative care emphasizes the quality of whatever life is left.

Quality of life is always a worthwhile goal, even when — especially when — a person is at the end of their time.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Nonagenarians and Non-Aging

People in their nineties are called nonagenarians. My mind always processes the word to mean “non-aging,” and to a certain extent, that is true. After 93, people seem to stop aging. In fact, when people are in their late nineties, they are no more likely to die than someone in their early nineties. I just checked an actuarial table, and it seems as if everyone in their nineties has a life expectancy of about two years, and that expectancy of two years is a fairly constant number. On each birthday in your mid to late nineties, your life expectancy is approximately the same as it was the previous birthday, so you basically aren’t aging much at all. In fact, research seems to show that whatever health issues a person had at 93 remain, but new health issues generally aren’t accumulating. Nor are nonagenarians dying from dangerous pursuits such as sky diving or motorcycling. Since many people of that age seldom leave the house, their chances of getting in a car accident are slim, as is their chance of catching a serious illness old manfrom being in crowds.

Michael Rose, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of California says: We still don’t have a full explanation of the underlying genetics of the cessation of aging. One possibility is that there are genes that are advantageous early on but damaging to health later in life — an effect called “antagonistic pleiotropy.” And these are the genes that cease to be. We now understand that aging is not a cumulative process of progressive chemical damage, like rust. It is a pattern of declining function produced by evolution. Aristotle was wrong (Aristotle thought of aging as a remorseless process of falling apart, until death finally puts us out of our misery), and so are all the present-day biologists who try to explain aging in terms of biochemistry or cell biology alone.

In other words (at least according to my understanding), nonagenarians outlive the process of aging.

There is a chance that my 97-year-old father will live two more years despite his being on hospice, and maybe even because of it. The problems he has have been with him since his early nineties — congestive heart failure, COPD, and prostate cancer with such a low PSA number that his only symptom is occasional bleeding. What usually precipitates a serious decline in his health is a visit to the hospital. (They always seem to admit him when he is feeling his strongest, so whatever it is that bothered the doctor wasn’t bothering him.) Because the doctors take the opportunity to give him a thorough check-up (heart function, breathing problems, removing water build-up in the pleural cavity), he always returns home weeks later much worse off than when he went in. Now, with his being on hospice, he is not at the mercy of doctors who are determined to keep him alive at all costs, so he could remain at the stage he is in for a long time. (Of course, he could just as easily die tomorrow or next month, but statistically, chances are he won’t.)

I truly did not think he would recuperate from this last hospitalization — he wouldn’t get out of bed when he was there, claiming he was asserting his patient’s rights to refuse any treatment, so he ended up with pneumonia and an extended convalescent stay. When he finally got home, he was bedridden, but that robust constitution of his that outlasted a majority of his generation kicked in, and now he is up and about again, fully capable of being left alone. Apparently, he has outlived everything that could have killed him, and now he is drifting in his nonagenarianism.

Despite this cessation of aging in the elderly, they do die, so I know my father won’t be here forever, but still, it’s interesting to see firsthand the principles Michael Rose postulated.

Rose’s idea doesn’t change my mind about my own longevity, though — I’ve never wanted to live into my nineties, and for sure I don’t want to do so knowing that I could linger there for many years in some sort of pre-death limbo. I know we don’t have a choice in such matters, but luckily I take after my mother, so I probably won’t have to deal with either nonagenarianism or non-aging.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Life is Art

During the past three and a half years, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve been contemplating the meaning of life, death, and writing. (Sometimes it’s seemed as if these concepts have been contemplating me, too, since the questions often came unbidden.)

The truth of whatever problem I am cogitating usually comes to me whole as I walk in the desert, but my current idea has come instead as a slow dawning over the past months. It seems to me that life is not science or math, not philosophy or religion, but art.

We are the painted, the painters, the patrons. We are the written, the writers, the readers. We are the play, the audience, the actors. It’s as if we painted a scene, then stepped into the body of one of our creations, experienced the life of that character, and while doing all that, we are standing back and watching the whole thing.

ReadingI wrote those paragraphs exactly a year ago, trying to work out a concept of life and our place in it, but I never got beyond that sketchy idea. It seemed real and important at the time, so I must have been going through either a mystical period or an optimistic one, but I never could reconcile pain and disabilities, mental illnesses and physical ailments with such a bright outlook. And so this blog has been sitting in my draft folder for one entire year, waiting for me to develop the idea.

Many people believe the universe is unfolding as it should, which takes away some of the aspect of art. It could be that we are the work of the Great Artist, living out our lives on Earth in the same way that the characters live out their lives between the covers of books. Or it could be, as other people believe, that life is multi-facteted, where we live many lives in many guises and reincarnations. Neither of those ideas appeals to me, though I am not egotistical enough to believe that my thoughts and opinions have any impact on the truth. The truth is the truth. Only our vision of it changes.

So, is life art? I do not know.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

After This Death, There Will Be No Other

A friend and I talked last night about the themes of our lives, and he mentioned that a theme of my life seems to be taking care of the dying. First there was my mother (though I was not her principle caregiver, I did help when I could). Then there was my life mate/soul mate. And now there is my father. It seems as if I’ve been fighting with death for more years than I care to remember, but this final fight will be ending sometime in the not too distant future. And after his death, there will be no other — no other that I am responsible for, that is, except my own.

heavenMy father signed up for hospice yesterday. (He is strong enough and mentally alert enough that he was able to sign all the papers himself.) It seems like a big step, but the truth is he is no better or worse than he was the day before. Actually, that’s not true — he says he is doing worse, but to my eyes, he is doing better, thriving on the attention of nurses and home health care workers. I haven’t seen him so charming or jocular in years.

Hospice is not just for the actively dying, but also for those who will never get better, so just because he is now on hospice, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is close to death. I’ve talked to people whose parents were on hospice for five and even ten years. Although there is no way of knowing how long a person has, I don’t think my father is in any danger of dying soon. Getting older and tireder, yes. Dying? Not so much. He just doesn’t seem that much worse off than he was six months ago. He eats less than he did, but he drinks more Ensure. (I think he’s the one person in the world who actually likes the stuff.) So the calories add up to about the same.

This latest step is, strangely, more of an adjustment for me than it is for him. Even with my dysfunctional brother gone, we’ll never go back to the quiet days when I first got here to help him. There will be people coming and going, deliveries of drugs and other paraphernalia, reassessments and new schedules. And, of course, there will be visits from siblings who are suddenly frantic at what they think is the imminent death of our father.

I’ve gone through this so many times before, where I thought he was dying, and he proved me wrong, that I’ve learned not to make plans for when he’s gone. So, whatever the rest of the family thinks signing up for hospice means, I’m just taking things as they come.

Still, he is ninety-seven. One day his life will be finished, and so will this particular theme of mine. And then? I’ll just have to wait to find out what my next theme will be.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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