Rest In Peace, Pumpkin


Friends, my sweet angel of a dog passed on October 26, just 5 days shy of her 12th birthday. Judy and I have been grieving since, and while we know time will soften this loss, Pumpkin will always live in our home and in our hearts.

There will come a time when I write a story about her, explaining in more detail who she was and what she meant to us, but that time is not yet. Thank you all for caring.

Mystery Headstone

Graveyards are interesting places. In addition to the real sense of respect and sadness, sometimes there are headstones that are full of intrigue.

southerRed Souther was three years older than his bride, Grace. I would speculate that they married at about age 25 and 22, meaning they were married for 54 years. But it is the dates of their death that creates the mystery here. They died just 15 days apart and one wonders why. Was it something violent like a car accident, an illness they both shared, or something very poignant, like a broken heart. It happens with some frequency, that life partners cannot live without each other, and one death is quickly followed by the other, whose grief is overwhelming. Together forever, rest in peace, Red and Grace.


Grief does not discriminate. It can be seen in the face of angry fathers who carry young sons just killed in senseless wars. It can be seen in those who feel dead when abandoned or abused. And sometimes it can take the form of deep empathy felt by an aging stranger who happens upon a small town cemetery and imagines the intense pain felt by this family, so long ago.

© 2012 Michael Fiveson

Three Minute Conversation

It was a three minute conversation on a stairwell that turned me inside out and brought tears to my eyes.

We were both volunteers at a local elementary school and I stepped out of my room to stretch my back as he was approaching. He was 75 years old, but looked younger and in the space of 30 seconds he told me that his wife of 53 years had just died and then he added  “I didn’t know what I had”, and began to cry softly.

Married 41 years myself, I felt immediate compassion for this gentleman who told me that she had developed ALS and died “without dignity.”  He relayed how he would carry her to the bathroom and even told me that he found himself wishing she would die. Racked with a combination of guilt, loss, and grief, he continued to say “I didn’t know what I had.”

I touched his shoulder and told him it is clear to me how much he loved her, and that she would live on in his heart and mind. He just shook his head and cried, and I knew that his grief was in a deep place I could not massage, and that only time would soften the loss. I also knew that this was a peek at the loss many of us will feel when the love of our life suffers and dies. Unavoidable, this kind of grief waits in the shadows to clutch our hearts and stab our minds.

What I did not have the time to tell him is that I knew that he only wanted her suffering to end, that no one holds him accountable for that, and that the best of us struggle to know what it is we have, while we are having it. There is no doubt that he loved her deeply, and cared for her in sickness in a way most men could not.

Grab the moment, and squeeze it like it might be your last. Work hard at knowing what you have, and prepare for a loss that will leave you crying to a stranger during a three minute conversation in a stairwell.

Anne Frank

I will confess that only now, this late in life, am I reading Anne Frank’s diary.

With just 20 pages left, and her demise imminent, I am reluctant to finish it, as I know how I am going to react, and I am already grieving. During the course of this read I have fallen completely in love with this brave and enchanting girl who was so far beyond her years. Still, she had a child’s innocence while teetering between remarkable insight, bravery, fear, and a young girl’s fantasy.

I find that as I get older certain things punch me right in the heart, and my soul bleeds openly. Our world is filled with so much beauty which runs concurrently with a certain degree of horror and unimaginable suffering. This dichotomy spins my head and leaves me uncertain of everything outside of my own small family.

Now I am off to say goodbye to Anne and hurt just a little bit more.

All Gone

his father told him

not to worry

and to meet him


after dinner

by the fence

that separated

where the boys lived

and the men lived

and so he did


and the minutes

they had together

were all that was left

his mother

and sister

were somewhere else

in that awful place

where people screamed

and disappeared

and there was very little food

and it was cold

and he had to pretend

to be older

like his father told him

because younger boys

are taken somewhere

and never return

he did not know why

they were taken from their home

so many

such a long trip







so each day

he went to that fence

for many months

as his father grew thinner

and his mother

and sister

were somewhere else

I love you, said father

be strong

be brave

work hard

come tomorrow

my son

and so he did

except his father

was not there

that day

or the next day

or any other day


and all that he had

was all gone

in that awful place

called Auschwitz