Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Hey! It’s not Brain Surgery! Yes…it is (part 7)…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Brain Surgery Rebellion,Life & Death,Philosophy,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 6:35 pm on Sunday, May 16, 2010

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

As it happens, my longtime wife, Joyce, has seemingly perfect memory and total recall of the names of everything in the Universe, especially movies and actors.  Our marriage, therefore, was evidently divinely preordained.  With her mental plus and my mental minus, I guess there is some mercy for me out there, after all.

Because when I can write a story like this one, incredibly detailed and with perfect recollection, but still, frankly, can’t remember the name of that nurse or scores of other similar situations, I just call Joyce and she provides the name I need to me, instantly.

It is easy for me to say, as husbands do, that I love her.  But much more than that, she has made it possible for me to exist with a disability that would otherwise torture me with a selectively frozen mind.  So, I pray God gives me a long life, but selfishly, to be honest I admit, I sure hope he gives Joyce a longer one.

She has become more than metaphorically my “other half.”  She’s become the keeper of so many of my own memories; we are sometimes like one mind in two bodies.  She is essential to me, and so appreciated.  Why, in the very writing of this story, some viruses—probably Republican—attacked my computer, paralyzing it.  But Joyce, mighty Joyce, vanquished all of them and allowed me to continue writing.

“Love” doesn’t really cover how I feel about her.

Joyce has her own physical limitations and health problems that also will never improve.  So I hope that I, too, am the antidote for her, and thereby make her life more livable than if I wasn’t in it.  Her needing me makes me feel more valuable than I would otherwise, and in a way, evens out the scales.

Though we are both on the brink of being sixty years old, which will occur for both of us within thirty days (me: April 30th; Joy: May 20th 2010), achieving that big number is a triumph for both of us, and not a reason to rue the passing of time.  For us, growing older is a victory.  We are both blessed to share that enlightened perspective.

But in my coming to terms with all of this, I realized that there was a very real chance of more serious memory loss, if not right now, than an at unpredictable…sometime.  This terrified me and I decided I had too many stories in my unexpected life bottled up within me, and I’d better write them down.

So consequently, since January 2004, I’ve been writing as fast as I can.

As a result, five books have been published, four more are completed and over five thousand of these intensely personal books have been sold as of now.  Even strangers seem to want to know about an extraordinary yet still a truly ordinary man’s life.  How could I dream such a thing could be possible?

My son, David, told me in 1988, when he was ten, that I should be a teacher because of all the odd things I was telling him about the world: how to talk to people; how to understand people; and how to protect himself.  His sisters Rachel and Lisa, too.  I had so many stories to tell them and they all seemed to want to hear more.  At bedtime, when they were all small, I would make-up fairy tales on the spot, two of which have been preserved.  Both are in poetry form, and who knows if they will ever be published?

My late arriving fourth child, Sarah Hannah, has heard both of those stories, repeatedly (at her request) and also agrees with her older siblings.  She also told me to do my own illustrations, but a man has to know his limitations.  Maybe, one day…

So ironically, as a result of my fear of loss of memory and my acceptance of the fact I’d never get a teaching (or any other) degree, my decision to see if I could write these books has led to the preservation of far more human-sized history—Chicago, Jewish, spiritual, combative, sensual and otherwise—than would have ever existed without the frightening threat of what still may come following my surgeries.

So David, if enough people agree with you, I guess I did become a teacher of sorts, after all.

Both today, and maybe for many more tomorrows.

Who knows?

Finally, David, now thirty-one, came by my new store a few days ago (April 18th, 2010) to announce that he and his longtime girlfriend had just married each other the day before.  Oh, and also to tell me that my second grandchild would be arriving in November.

Well, of course I embraced them both, told David’s new wife that I loved her and that now she was my daughter, too.

But over the next thirty minutes, I was simply unable to recall her name.  I was also stubbornly determined NOT to ask her, either.  It seemed to me to be exactly the wrong thing for me to do on a momentous day like it was, for all of us.  No matter what, she would always remember that on the day my son introduced her to me as his wife, I just couldn’t seem to know her name.  Better not to start things that way.

As they were preparing to leave, the letters composing her last name slowly, so slowly, began to become visible in my mind.

Her last name appeared first: L-U-N-A.

Then, about five minutes later, her first named showed up: N-I-C-O-L-E.   

Like that: One letter after another appearing in my mind.

Dear reader, just imagine how I felt, embracing her, congratulating both of them, and yet unable to speak her name out loud during all that time.  Imagine how you would have felt.

In my strange life, great happiness and great frustration walk down the street together, holding hands.

This will never change.


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart  and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998                                                                                                                    (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $24.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.

 Twitter handle:bob_katzman


Comment by Gela Altman

May 17, 2010 @ 6:52 am

it’s a very sweet and benevolent ending to your terrible ordeal. In Spanish there is a saying that says: ‘No hay mal que por bien no venga’, which means ‘There is not bad from which good doesn’t come’.
Your story is an example, to me at least, of that wonderful saying.
I wish you and Joy a long and fulfilling life.

Comment by Don Larson

May 17, 2010 @ 7:53 am


You remind us of what is truly important in life.

Thank you.


Comment by Paul Eisenbacher

May 18, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

Please forgive me. it has been awhile since we last talked. I have been spending time in Scottsdale. I know it is in the not very popular state of Arizona, but that is where Barb is. First, belated happy 60th birthday. Time does go by fast. Thank you for such a personal and sensitive story that must have been difficult to express. It demonstrates your strong and tenacious love of life as well as the love of your life: your beautiful family. It has been a pleasure for me, through getting to know you personally and through your stories,to follow a life of so many varied experiences that touch such a variety of emotions. Thanks for letting me walk down your street of life. Paul

Comment by Marjorie Howard

June 23, 2010 @ 3:06 pm

Another sample of your literary genius! I hope that I may someday find the kind of love that exists between you and Joyce.

I have a new understanding of what the term “my better half” means between a couple that has true love, real caring and limitless compassion for each other. You are each truly blessed.

I pray that the love story will continue for a long, long time.


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