I first became acquainted with Michael after another case manager I work with, a woman, reported the proprietor of the group home (sort of a boarding house, really), Miss Samantha, as she was known, and whom I knew slightly, said she wanted Michael out because of his sometimes bizarre behaviors, often frightening to her neighbors.  Miss Samantha is a tall, white-haired woman of some dignity.  Sort of Southern in her ...

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He shoved the paper with the address in his pocket. Then he found his little black bag with the oils and other implements for giving what once was called the last rites of the church, but were now termed the sacrament of the sick, and headed off in the direction of the Flats. Sixty-six Center Street. He'd been there before, he was sure. Only the week before, the adjoining block ...

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Mary is a woman of sixty years.  She is obese.  Originally from rural Alabama, she told me her aunt and uncle raised her, and they were bootleggers, making their own liquor.  By age fifteen, she was drinking this homemade hooch.   She never told me how she made her way to New York and New Jersey, where her kids now live, and where she once had a husband.  She is unsure ...

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Debby Ann has a pit bull, and I remembered that when she called me recently.  It had belonged to her son, who is now deceased.  He was murdered.  She wants to meet me for lunch. Debby Ann is a pretty lady, at least she was the last time I saw her. We worked together for a while.  She has an especially pretty face, and nice blond hair.  In her twenties, I ...

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Patricia, she is maybe 40.  She is mentally ill.   Her mother was shot while cooking in her kitchen with a rifle someone was fooling with, and the weapon went off.  Patricia was there to see her mother’s head just about blown off.  She was 16 then. I don’t know why I mention the long-ago shooting, except it never goes far out of my mind when the subject is Patricia. Persons like Patricia ...

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By profession, Donna Dillon is a photographer.  She wouldn't like to be described as a "professional" anything, but the quality of her photos make her deserving of the term. But disarray and inertia characterize Donna now, by her own description. "My life's work is stuffed into little places, and I sit relatively immobile, before the prospect of the bequeathment.  I have set up a will, but it is sort of desperate, ...

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"Three Fleet enemas?" I ask the nurse. She isn't much interested in a conversation with me about anything. She is busy. "This man, so far as I understand it, does not have a colon." It looks to me like they want to reconnect his colon," she says as if I hadn't said what I just said. "I am not a doctor," I remind her, "but I don't see how that is possible. Too ...

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"Howard wants to go to the hospital. He knows he isn't doing that great. He says he is having homicidal thoughts." This from my supervisor, Linda. Homicidal thoughts on the part of any client get our attention, especially so with Howard, because years before, he killed a man with a gun. I believe it was in a fight. "He wants you to take him to the hospital, Ray." "Sure," I say. "You think ...

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Many years ago, I was given a literary award from the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation.  It was for $175 and was an encouragement to finish an American Indian novel I was then writing. "Not enough to quit your job," I remember was a line from the letter I received from the foundation's rep, Barbara. And from thereafter, Barbara and I kept in touch for many years.   Mostly we wrote letters, and ...

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I remember Jake Mattolli as a pioneer in heart surgery. He certainly didn't wish to be one. I believe he had a valve replacement, and it was done in the early '60s. I remember the Boston surgeon termed the operation a success, but as Jake's lungs gave out on the table, he, the patient, died. That sort of success most of us wish to avoid. The thing I remember about Jake, aside ...

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My father would have liked to know Dr. Young's husband, Tad. Tad is a professional wrestler, the world-class wrestling kind, complete with lots of belts and awards (or so I want to believe). My father, he's been dead a long time. He liked both boxing and wrestling, probably wrestling more. My mother liked boxing, but maybe because my father did. It was in the years when there were boxers like Jake ...

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Philomena was the youngest child in a large Irish family. She grew up in a place called Kilquane, about ten miles from Dingle town in the Republic of Ireland. At about age three or four, she contracted measles, which settled in one eye, and that eye had to be surgically removed. That surgery was a botch job, and the artificial eye she was given never fit properly. All of this ...

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In the coronavirus era, I go most days to our neighborhood McDonald's, where I purchase a cup of coffee and take it outside to a patio area where I sit and eat peanut butter crackers which I carry with me. Today as I stood in a short line inside the facility, with persons standing the approved distance from one another, of course, an older man came up behind me and tapped ...

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Everyone called her "Maggie," which was short for Magnolia. She acquired that nickname because she was from the Deep South, which made her a standout in New York. Her name was really Linda. Maggie seemed to gravitate to the Irish in New York City, where she worked as a nurse. Not that she had a drop of Irish in her. But she enjoyed her pals, most of whom were undocumented ...

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It took some getting used to in dealing with Mae. My main function soon became acting as her bookkeeper. Each month, I would write checks for her. She was illiterate, and signing her name was about all she could do. Mae was a fairly ordinary looking lady past 50 by several years. But what was most striking about her was her mischievous personality — in short, she was a flirt. I found ...

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Correna is full of simplistic Henny Youngman-type one-liners (many of you readers, I understand, may never have heard of the comic, Henny Youngman, but no matter). But her one-liners are not particularly funny. She might say as we drive along, "I am SOB," (Stuck or broke) or "CRS," (can't remember shit), or "SOS," Stuck on Stupid, and her favorite one, which has no initials is "The world is full of idiots, ...

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In November each year, I usually attend an all-day conference in Louisville on the subject of depression. Some of it can become a little grim, but there is an especially tasty free box-lunch that I appreciate. Suicide is a big subject at depression conferences. One might expect this to be true. The focus is on suicide prevention, which is as it should be. The discussion is usually led by university professors, and ...

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Charles looks older than his sixty-one years; he is very thin and quite stooped, and his eyes are what I guess are described as "lazy." One goes one way, and one another. He is badly in need of dental work. He has emphysema, though he continues to smoke heavily. His coloring is not right, and overall, he looks unwell. But for the almost ten years I've known him, he has never ...

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When I first landed this job as a case manager (social worker), I was given Robert R. as a client. He was at his worst then, soiling himself virtually every day, with no change of clothing available. I remember him wearing a piece of colored cloth around his waist, which served as a belt. When he would come in in such a condition, sometimes even tracking in feces on his shoes, ...

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Ed is not from Kentucky. I believe he told me he is from West Virginia and from a very low-income family. At about 15, he was hit by a car and paralyzed from the waist down. He's now about 30. But for a guy in a wheelchair, he is nothing short of remarkable for what he gets done. He goes everywhere, either by his own strength or by bus, even on ...

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