Saturday, April 30, 2016

A death in the neighborhood

Jack Magri
This week many of us in South Hadley and environs mourned the loss of Jack Magri, who died on Monday after a long fight with brain cancer. The owner of Tailgate Picnic was the nicest guy, known for making fabulous holiday baskets, running a thriving business, and always smiling even when you could see he was coming back from another surgery. Did I say he was very handsome?

On occasion we shared notes about what we were going through, how we felt, and what we were doing to boost ourselves back up after we had lost weight during treatment. I brought him a protein shake that I had made. He gave me one at the deli. The whole family loves it there. It is our home-away-from-home.

The same week, Joe Biden went to the Vatican to talk about two of his passions: his Roman Catholic faith and curing cancer. His son, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer at age 47 just about a year ago.

Jack was only 57. Someone said at calling hours on Thursday that this has been going on for 13 years. I don't know if that is exactly the correct amount of time. But it correlates with my own time frame. I told Jane that I thought his was worse...getting your head cut into repeatedly and having your hopes raised and going back to work in the public eye and having everyone ask you how you are and then having it come back again. Jane reminded me that mine was pretty bad too. Well, not pretty bad. Very bad.

But I am here to write about it, and my biggest complaint at this point is that I am fighting the urge, not always successfully, to pull the peeling skin off of my face after the photodynamic therapy last week gave me a bad sunburn.

I spent a lot of time last weekend finishing a long piece that I wrote for Smith College's Insight publication. It is on the research of Patricia DiBartolo, a psychology professor who studies the downsides of perfectionism. In doing so, I made a mess of my kitchen table and environs. Today I am going to clean up. It might take most of the day because I still haven't put everything away from Passover. My garden (or so-called garden) is a mess also.

As a footnote, Jews don't do open caskets. I only saw my first one after I moved to New England. Obviously you honor the choice of the family by going to pay your respects, but if you haven't grown up with it, it is hard to get it out of your mind.

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