Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Post-Surgical Dispatches from Racine, Wisconsin…by Robert M. Katzman

January 10, 2016 (Sunday)

So, I am home alone, recuperating, with my dogs Betsy and Jasmine, who keep me warm in frigid Wisconsin. I can stand up and lie down, but no sitting or I’m in big trouble. Prostate surgery is not something to mess around with.

 

I discourage nice friends who live nearby from visiting, because the (unstated) aspects of recovery are difficult to deal with, and constant. About two weeks before most things are better. Burning pain is a real part of it. I look fine (ok, not gorgeous) and no one could tell something was wrong unless they lived with me for a day. Time moves v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y. The dogs wake me before sunrise, follow me around every damn minute, have to go outside endlessly and if I choose to rebel, they leave me a little message. The Dog Mafia.

 

But also, they snuggle, and keep me from focusing on my problems. I cook, read, watch movies, currently a documentary about World War I. Think that long ago war (1914-1918) is boring? Hmmmm? Well, we fought WWII partly because of the stupidity of the victor’s decisions and we have chaos in the Middle East today, including uncountable refugees flowing from there to Europe because of two minor French and English officers who drew new lines on a map, evidently whimsically, creating new countries out of the old Ottoman Empire, which existed for 500 years.

 

It is zero here, so tomorrow I have to start my car and let it run, or it won’t later when I need it to. I can sit for only a few minutes, so I sure hope there’s no problems.

 

Finally, if anyone out there never saw an indie movie, “Perks of Being a Wallflower” I recommend it. Very powerful emotionally, and a reminder about how much unknown talent exists everywhere, and what a hell high school was for 99% of the people who attended it. But also, how a great teacher can make it worth going day after day. That was my story, but I had three of them.

 

January 16, 2016 (Saturday)

January report from Bob Katzman, the Wisconsin Shut In:

 

I’m beginning to read more books I let pile up by my bed. I can focus on ideas better without my previous 3-hour a day commute south. I was quite surprised by the number of new people I’ve met and befriended in Racine, Wis who offered to bring me food, or were worried about that since I’m confined here alone for a while, including a Lubavitcher Rabbi in NYC and a Morton Grove, Il friend who happens to be the Rabbi in the last synagogue in Racine.

 

I’ve seen my wife Joy only once since my surgery on January 5th, and her accident on January 2nd. We speak on the phone constantly. She is in a Northbrook, Il nursing home receiving radiation and rehabilitation 5 days a week. She has 3 weeks to go. Missing her is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the jelly. I am incomplete.

 

The small house we share is exceptionally empty without her, and I find I am missing her own sweet fragrance, and that of the female-related products she uses. I can’t guess what she might say from her perspective about me, or what she is missing. Maybe the customized breakfasts I made for her. But I wouldn’t want that to be the only thing.

 

Except for phone calls, short one-way conversations with my two remaining dogs and hearing NPR sometimes, I exist in silence. But also that dogs have very distinct voices and vocabularies if a person pays attention. I’ve learned about the poetry scene here, much more than I imagined and which I will join soon. I’ve learned that I won’t watch more than one movie a day, because after seeing a really good film, my emotional response to it diminishes, if yet another movie is then piled on top of it.

 

Small town relationships here are very different than my being part of an urban megalopolis. Almost uniformly, the people I have met and taken the time to know have done the same with me. The conversations are more substantial and slower because there is less of a sense of both of us rushing to do something else with someone else. The greetings and departures are warmer. Wine, coffee and tea always present and good.

 

People don’t seem to care much about their own clothing’s fashionability or mine, either—a major change, since I’ve never given a damn about clothes and other people have let me know about that all my life around Chicago. Not approvingly. Said otherwise, here the person is the gift and their wrapping is unimportant.

 

When I’ve gotten lost here, constantly, I call the local cops who are never too busy to help me out. Sometimes they just chat. Usually those are the women. The Racine Cop-ettes. Same thing in locally owned hardware stores when I’ve been unsure about how to handle this or that. Behind their assorted beards, mustaches and serious eyes (I’m speaking of men here) is an encyclopedia of how to do anything and everything. No one who has helped me ever was too busy to talk or impatient with my sometimes slow comprehension. Weather here can be dangerous and the spaces between towns are wide. The neighborliness carries that sense of “Friend, you ought to do this to be safe. Winter’s a bear here.”

 

In my several visits to Racine’s City Hall, in its old and imposing 6th Street stone structure, which resembles a fortress, my footsteps had a lonely echo in its one long hallway because I have always been the only person there. When I walk into wherever I’m going for information, to pay my real estate taxes or to even get a map, the clerk in whatever office I enter always smiles at me, is helpful, and then says goodbye when I leave. Think about that. And no city stickers for cars, too. Gosh.

 

When I drive around town, the Downtown area is dowdy and a fair number of stores are closed. At night, the only neon gleaming in the darkness comes from bar after bar after bar. Except for Frank Lloyd Wright buildings here and there, a busy tourist looking for excitement, restaurants and movie theaters wouldn’t even pause here except at the stoplights. Which they sure better do, because the cops in their squad cars are very serious people.

 

What’s valuable in Racine, to this curious new resident, is not to be found on the frequently dreary exteriors of the many old structures. What’s quite valuable are the people inside of them.

 

If anyone wishes to read more Wisconsin stories by this slowly healing writer, or any of two hundred other stories and poems on many subjects, please go to: www.DifferentSlants.com  Just like the way the unexpected people I’ve met surprised me in Racine, you may feel the same way about what you find quietly buried within my work. If you’re not too busy.

 

January 20, 2016 (Wednesday)

Final installment on a life restarted, a life repairing and a life ending. Poetic sentences may be lovely to look at but very hard to deal with in the flesh.

 

Eighteen days after closing my Skokie store and fifteen days after surgery, my Milwaukee doc told me I was fit to go back to work two weeks early. Seems old newsvendors from the South Side of Chicago are made from tougher stuff. He didn’t say that, but, it’s a fact. I wasn’t suppose to lift more than five pounds post surgery, but my fifteen-year-old and too ill Beagle, Betsy, can’t get up or down off of my bed by herself anymore, among other difficulties and she weighs twenty pounds.

 

She can’t sleep unless she’s cuddled up jammed against me on my left side, and completely covered with blankets. Sometimes I sleep on a heated pad for my lower back and she likes that, too. It’s wide enough to share with her. She curls up next to me like a furry apostrophe. Once asleep, she’s like a lead weight and there’s no moving her. I think we warm each other emotionally.

 

Betsy was born on the 4th of July 2000 and my then four-year-old daughter Sarah and ageless wife Joyce found her in an Iowa cardboard box at an outside country flea-market on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just west of Galena, Il. We’d go there sometimes where I would go hunting for antique newspapers in small towns to bring back and sell at my Morton Grove, Il collectible paper store. Joy and I were both fifty.

 

I was walking down a hill as tiny Sarah was walking up that same hill holding the soft puppy in her pudgy hands. The dog’s floppy ears hung down on either side of her hands. She looked like a walking Hallmark card. Big smile on her face, green eyes all squinty, long white-blonde hair blowing aimlessly in a warm wind.

 

“Daddy! Can we keep her!?!”

 

Some questions carry their own answers. I thought that Sarah was the puppy.

 

My wife was trailing her, an obvious party to this conspiracy, daring me to defy the child’s plea. Completely contradicting my edict to both that:

 

“We’re-not-getting-any-more-dogs! They keep-getting old and-dying,-damn-it”.

 

Then life and time kept flowing. Sarah grew up, tall and beautiful. Betsy also grew up, short and beautiful. Joy and me? We’re now sixty-five. I still consider Joyce to be beautiful, however. Her cancers have no say over that. Not to me.

 

Now Sarah’s gone and a freshman in college. Joy is in a nursing home getting physical rehabilitation and radiation and chemo in a nearby hospital, back and forth every day. When Joy comes home—and she will come home—caring for an incontinent, mostly blind and disintegrating pet will be impossible.

 

After delaying it for months because letting go is a very tough thing to do, my children and wife prevailed upon me to set Betsy free from her pain and suffering. Joyce’s situation forced me to accept the responsibility of ending our pet’s life. There has to be a limit to selfishness when it impacts others no matter what species they are.

 

After hunting around a range of animal hospitals and clinics in Wisconsin and Illinois, with a surprisingly wide range of prices to put a pet asleep, I finally found a place I could afford which would also allow me to hold her in my arms when she is given her last shot. I can do no more than that, and I can do no less.

 

Depending on how the place I found works, Betsy will be going there with me today or tomorrow. She will not be coming back with me.

 

Most people say “I’m putting my dog to sleep” when they end a pet’s life, to help make it possible to do it. No one can casually say, “Well, guess its time we kill the old dog”.

 

After it is done, my children will feel better about Betsy. My wife will feel better about Betsy. I sure want that to be so. Me? After fifteen years of having that warm twenty-pound flea-market dog crushed up tight against my ribs all night, I doubt my nights will ever be quite the same.

 

Damn you, Betsy. Damn you. You got me crying again.

 

January 22, 2016 (Friday)

Steeling myself, Thursday night I made the appointment for Betsy at this obscure clinic seemingly in the middle of a Chicago industrial area for this morning at 9:15.  I got lost, but that was to be expected. Besides, I didn’t regret the extra minutes that allowed me to be with Betsy, alert and looking around at the unfamiliar territory we were wandering in. Sometimes she’d be facing out the passenger window, then crank her lovely white muzzled head around with its dim cataract eyes pretending she could see me, with an expression on her face that clearly spoke to me saying,

“Where the hell are we, Bob?”  

 

I don’t know if she thought about me by my name, but that’s what I imagined she was thinking. I reached over and buried my fingers in her soft fur and scratched her steadily behind her ears. She likes that. She closed her eyes, lifted her nose up in the air and pressed her head more closely into my fingers. I slowed down a little. No reason to rush, I thought. She opened an eye and gazed at me when I paused scratching.  I resumed scratching.  So easy to please her.

 

It was beginning to snow, but barely. The East Coast was about to be buried in two feet of snow. It was all the Wisconsin and Illinois NPR radio stations could talk about. Even as the edge of the massive storm was slowly moving over that whole part of the map, power lines were already snapping, cars were skidding off the interstates and people were dying.  It was damned cold where we were, but the snow was like dust. Small mercies.

 

When we arrived, after I called the clinic a couple of times to redirect me, which seemed to amuse them, I found a parking space.  I attached Betsy’s pink leash (since she’s a lady, after all) to her collar, then got out on the street side to walk around to the passenger side to let her out. I wanted to carry her in, but with my prostate surgery’s weight limitations, it would have been the damaged attempting to carry the doomed.

 

I opened the door, grabbed her leash and she prepared to jump out like she always would on our periodic little jaunts to parks and walks in various places. She knew the routine. She looked down first at the cold black water gathering between the car and the curb, looked at me and then neatly jumped over the water to the sidewalk. Not bad for an old lady, I thought to myself. Her dainty paws left footprints on the gathering snow which was beginning to stick and accumulate. We walked to the clinic, about twenty feet away. I was thinking about nothing, as much as possible.

 

Then the strangest series of moments followed.  The young woman vet expecting me was in good humor, showed me to a small room to set events in motion. This was a new experience for me, but one of hundreds for her. How could she function any other way?

 

I want to type her name, I really do, but I also want to let her be one of hundreds of kind veterinarians who help people like myself get through an impossible situation.  But here’s the thing.  Animals like me. Always have, especially dogs, cats and even horses. Animals can sense evil. I realize it is mysterious how they can differentiate another species into safe and dangerous, but over the years I have always been honored to have been selected to be on the safe side. it wasn’t like I could lie to an animal about that.  I’ll just call her the Vet.

 

People often say their pets are so smart, they are “almost human.”  Like that is the highest of praise that can be bestowed upon another creature. I have thought about that. It may be that dogs, for instance, think I am so gentle and comprehending of their needs, in their judgement, that I’m “almost a dog” to them.  That, to me, is much higher praise than the other kind.

 

Here’s the other thing and I want to express it the way I intend it, so it won’t be misunderstood. I get along well, generally, with most women. Most of my books have been purchased by women.  I’m empathetic, I guess, to the vulnerabilities that women live with, and Joyce, my wife, says I have a strong feminine side. She says it with humor, but she’s right.  I lived with intense violence for nine years as a child in my South Side of Chicago home, and out of that came a strong protective sense that though I was unable to defend myself, I’d be damned if I would allow others to be hurt if I could ever prevent it. And sometimes I was able to do that. Maybe that determination can be perceived by intuitive woman. I don’t know.  Maybe its really obvious to them but not to men.  Women can see things, feel things, that men cannot.

 

So, while the Vet was explaining the process, and evidently trying to soothe me like she probably did routinely for many people in this terrible circumstance of ending the life of an old sick pet, I began quietly talking to her about how I arrived at her place and what the situation was that forced me to come to her clinic.  While I was doing this, and after she shaved part of Betsy’s leg to give her a sedative, she stopped talking and began listening more intently.  I didn’t expect that.  I was stroking Betsy’s fur and trying to give my small friend some last pleasure before her death, while describing the cruel cascading events that befell my wife and me, except much more now for my wife who had always–always–looked after me. I was breakable. She was not.

 

It was only a few minutes and I felt uncomfortable like I was saying too much and revealing too much and I wanted to shut up. But it was also delaying the injection, except I wasn’t consciously thinking about that.  This was an intense moment between two strangers and a dog.

 

So, I decided to stop talking and let things proceed when I looked up from Betsy to the Vet who was, stunningly, crying. Big tears rolling down her face. Makeup smearing. I looked at her as she looked at me, then down at my dog and back up at me and I was frozen with indecision.  I didn’t expect any of this.  But I couldn’t ignore the Vet’s distress.  I felt somehow I’d caused it.  What do I do now?

 

Hesitantly, awkwardly, I softly asked her if she wanted a hug. All I could think of to say. She was young enough to be my daughter, but she wasn’t my daughter and it wasn’t kosher to touch a woman I didn’t know at all.  So I left it up to her.  She looked at me, bent over to inject Betsy with the sedative, put the syringe down and walked around the steel table and hugged me.  After a moment, I hugged her back, but not to hard and not too long. I had to do something. Comforting the weeping Vet in the little room was beyond my comprehension.

 

She looked up, not speaking, wiped her eyes, went back around the table, told me Betsy was ready for her last shot and was I?  I said I was.  She shaved another leg, and I bent down to look into Betsy’s cloudy eyes. I wanted to be the last face she saw, the face that loved her, and hoped it would count for some comfort for her.  I stroked her lush fur, watched her ribs rising and falling as she quietly breathed, saw the Vet make the injection, stayed where I was, listening to Betsy’s breath, heard the vet say it wouldn’t be very long, kept watching Betsy’s eyes, wanting so much to give her peace.  And in a few minutes, her open eyes with their grey lashes rolled upward, and the Vet said she was gone.

 

When I thanked the Vet for her wonderful kindness to both Betsy and me, paid her, shook her soft warm hand, and then I walked outside again, where the snow had kept falling, very gently, but continuously.  I was…I don’t know where I was. Kind of in a haze. Empty. Then I noticed the impression my heavy leather boots had made in the snow, with their distinct pattern on their soles. I was walking back along side of them in the opposite direction they were going, thinking how curious it was they were still visible. But as I neared the car, I realized that Betsy’s paw prints had vanished.

 

Vanished.

 

Like she had never been there at all.

 

I got back into my car, sat there for a moment thinking about that. Then I smiled to myself at the wonder of it, liked it very much, cranked the engine and drove off through the snowflakes into the light traffic, alone.

 

May 6, 2016  (Friday)

 

Postscript, four months later:

 

Post Surgical? Well, not just a story title referring to my January 5th prostate surgery. Supposed to heal by eight weeks, but four months later, still not quite whatever I expected it to be like. In general, getting older is a bitch.

 

Chewy was given to a family friend in Skokie, Illinois who has a young child and he survives. Jasmine and I spend a great deal of time together now, following my April 10th retirement from my career of 54 years.  When I drive anywhere, she expects to go with me and does. I have adapted the passenger seat to accommodate her comfort, with a small pillow next to the door so she can more easily stand up with her beautiful head thrust out of the window, auburn fur flowing behind her as the wind rushes past.  Her muzzle is almost completely white.

 

I found an independent butcher in Caledonia, Wisconsin who sells big roasted bones for dogs to chew on. This has improved Jasmine’s world and happiness. On the floor in front of her seat, there is a large pink rectangular tub I “borrowed’ from a hospital with a day’s supply of her water in it.  Mostly, she sits next to me, snuggling, and my hand rests on her back or head, slowly scratching her soft ears.  If I stop, I feel a cold nose lifting up my hand to continue. When she falls asleep, she makes anxious sounds, with her paws moving slightly, seeming to me to be running.

 

When I see something special, like a farm with a small herd of horses or cows, I tell her to look out of her window and she does, immediately. Our communication has become psychic, at least to me. I think it always was on her part, as she has waited for me to catch up to her that way.

 

She sleeps on my bed, in the kitchen if I’m in it, next to me watching movies, won’t walk out of the house door, the yard gate or go in or out of our car unless I tell her to do so. She has not been trained. She simply cooperates within our relationship. However, since she has had giant roasted bones introduced into her life, my attempting to reward her for doing something with common dog biscuits from a box, has become meaningless to her.  

 

Her brown eyes look up into my brown eyes when I offer them to her, tilting her head as if to say:

“What do you expect me to do with that?”

and often  as not lets the treat fall to the floor. Sometimes I pick it up. Sometimes I leave it there for her to reconsider. She knows its there.

 

We both listen to Wisconsin Public Radio as we drive down long empty country roads, frequently in the dark. 

 

I found a local veteran handyman, handier than I am these days. He’s going to install LED exterior lights around the house to help me avoid hitting the side of the house when I pull into the narrow driveway. Also, stop the leak in the kitchen sink. And fix the faulty socket above the stove so I can see what I’m burning more clearly.

 

An economical local fence company is going to replace the thirty-six foot chicken wire barrier I built the day we moved in, June 15th, to keep the grandchildren and dogs from running into the street. Joy selected the design and height. I chose the width and location of the gate. I do nothing without her approval. Its her house too, whether she’s there with me, or not.

 

I rebuilt my backyard fireplace with a total of 120 large paving bricks. I designed it to be stepped in the style of a Mayan temple. It is now six feet wide,  five feet high in the back, one foot high in front. Kind like a stage where the fire is performing, flames leaping up the back brick wall in the night. Hell of a thing to watch when its really going, but I don’t like watching it alone. Seems pointless.

 

And Joyce.

 

She has been in and out of hospitals and nursing homes constantly since the last time she was in our new home on January 2nd.  She is currently in a rehab facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin and  has been and will return to the University of Chicago Hospital for chemotherapy this Monday, May 9th, 2016, the day after Mother’s Day.  

 

I see Joy constantly, drive exhausted, fell asleep one time on the Interstate driving from Illinois to Wisconsin during a packed rush hour with her in the back seat and–fortunately–her sister Elaine, a registered nurse, sitting next to me. She noticed the car’s slow swerve to the left, touched my arm and I quickly awoke. Nothing happened.

 

Is there a God? I think He was sitting in the front seat with us that day, keeping an eye on things.  I was going fifty miles an hour when I dropped off to sleep. Think about that.

 

I am home, mostly, reading, writing, seeing our friends, watching some wonderful movies in our basement, thinking about how to comprehend all of this. I don’t think about my half century in retail at all. It may as well have never happened. Seeing stores as I drive past a range of Wisconsin and Illinois neighborhoods, I wonder today why anyone would assume that whatever they were selling, why in the world would  the public beat a path to their door?  So many storefronts are empty, everywhere. What used to be clear and logical to me once upon a time, no longer is. Why sentence oneself to slavery behind a store’s counter a zillion hours a week?  Hoping one’s ship will one day come in? What if my particular ship sunk long ago and no one ever told me? 

 

Joy and I will both have turned 66 by her birthday, May 20th. I intend to be with her that day, a Friday, doing whatever she wants to do. If the weather is warm and the wind gentle, I’ll push her in her wheelchair along the trail above the sandy lakefront in Racine. Maybe we’ll have a picnic.  My ambitions are uncomplicated now. I have no plans beyond that.

 

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 $29.95 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

21 Comments »

Comment by Don Larson

January 19, 2016 @ 11:00 pm

Bob,

No matter what you write, the strength within your soul comes through.

I’m sorry for your pains.

I’m sorry for your losses.

You may not see all that care for you, but we are out here. I think you feel us in your heart.

I suggest you consider visualizing that experience you had pounding that roll of Aluminum using only your body around your old newsstand to apply your will to overcome that difficulty of shaping it to that structure. Use that same motivation now in victory over your current condition. And for God sake, keep writing.

Sincerest regards,

Don

Comment by bruce

January 20, 2016 @ 8:13 am

oh bobby k…you are held safe in the web of love you spin with your tales! like betsy, you can’t fall even if you let go. i miss you all like crazy.

Comment by Chris Grossman

January 20, 2016 @ 11:33 am

It is so hard to let go of a pet. You are coping with life’s traumas with such strength, Bob. Love to you and Joy.

Comment by Lisa

January 20, 2016 @ 6:14 pm

Bob
Never stop writing!
It’s beautiful and heartfelt!
I am sorry for all the pain you and Joyce are going through.
The loss of a dog is so painful- they become apart of our family.
May your love for each other continue to give you both strength.

Comment by Charlie Newman

January 22, 2016 @ 9:32 pm

No words.
Total respect.

Comment by Harry Steindler

January 22, 2016 @ 9:43 pm

Now that I’m done crying: Betsy was quite the lucky girl. I’m sure you will always enjoy wonderful memories. I’m sorry for your loss. I wish you and your wife complete recoveries and happy days ahead.

Comment by Joel

January 22, 2016 @ 10:23 pm

I’ve observed it before and I’m sure I’ll do so yet again: your writing does far more than convey words. It shares space, time, presence, and emotion, delivering them to others far away, as if they were there. Remarkable talent, Bob. Just remarkable. When I stop reading, I’m still there.

Comment by bruce

January 22, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

bye betsy

Comment by David Griesemer

January 23, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

Bob’s bond with dogs goes back to his childhood, a time of “intense violence.”
Originally Bob didn’t want Betsy because dogs “keep-getting old and-dying.” Turns out it’s worse if they don’t die. I fantasized that Betsy understood the situation, that she would spare Bob by dying at home in her sleep. Instead Abraham and Isaac climb the mountain. No ram in the thicket this time.
Dogs take bullets for us. They would take our cancers if they could. Maybe Betsy did.

Comment by Karen

January 23, 2016 @ 9:06 pm

Wonderful writing Bob, so real and so heartfelt. It’s takes courage to share such intimacy and you have that. I’m sorry for your losses and troubles, and hope for a few wins, very soon wins!

Comment by Bob

January 23, 2016 @ 9:59 pm

Thank you very much,Karen.

Comment by Bob

January 23, 2016 @ 10:01 pm

You are everything I expected and a first class individual. Thanks for kernel of an idea that produced 2,000 words in part 4.
B

Comment by Bob

January 23, 2016 @ 10:03 pm

Joel, thank you. Not the best of times, but still, the circumstances produced a 3,400 word story that an amazing number of people seem to have connected with in an intimate way. This story was emotional naked. That gets me ever closer to the truth.
Bob

Comment by Alex Wilson

January 26, 2016 @ 8:34 pm

I grew up oh Hyde Park and South Shore in the 1950s. Perhaps that shared background helps me appreciate your writing more.

Thank you, Bob

Comment by Mary Hershey

January 28, 2016 @ 11:49 am

You were right Bob, this absolutely made me cry. Beautiful, honest writing. I’m so happy we came to your store and met you, and that I’ll continue to learn more about you through your stories. May 2016 bring more joy and more writing! Thank you!

Comment by Pat

March 12, 2016 @ 9:32 pm

Sorry for your loss. They are such important friends. Beautiful words Bob. Thanks.

Comment by Gretchen

May 6, 2016 @ 11:49 pm

Sadly, the determination that replaces strength and hope when those are missing, that carries you forward each day during these trying times, is also moving others along each day. Your generous sharing combined with wonderful writing in such human voice helps make the paths for the rest of us a bit easier. That life is a mixed bag is something rarely said out loud. Always worth it, but not always easy.

Comment by David Griesemer

May 9, 2016 @ 7:59 pm

“And fix the faulty socket above the stove so I can see what I’m burning more clearly.” Reminds you of another deft comic line – Bob is anxious for an unobstructed view out his store’s window, so he can see customers NOT walking by.
“My ambitions are uncomplicated now.” Here begins the distillation of a soul. Of two lives. Formerly a renaissance man, Bob finds the unnecessary pared away. What’s left? Keep reading.

Pingback by Different Slants » Brad Bliss, Country Charm and a Killer Baby Robin…by Robert M. Katzman

July 7, 2016 @ 5:51 pm

[…] Post-Surgical Dispatches from Racine, Wisconsin…by Robert M. Katzman […]

Comment by Brad Dechter

December 31, 2019 @ 12:03 pm

Being married over 45 years, and always having dogs and cats, I cried as I read this. Oh the sad memories. You can only hope that when it’s that time, they are going to a better place.
Now I’ll be depressed the whole day.
Thanks Bob!

Comment by Kathleen A. Bellair

June 15, 2020 @ 2:19 pm

Dear Bob,

It is a beautiful day outside, and yet I lay here reading story after story of yours. I will be buying your books, that is for sure! Life can be so brutally sad and miraculous all in the same suspension of time, can’t it? I too, have had to say goodbye to beloved dogs of mine. It is such a profoundly hard thing to do. As I was reading your article, I suddenly realized that we had two dogs with the same names. Jasmine and Chewy. I also lived in Wisconsin for a year, but I felt like a fish out of water. My body doesn’t seem in sync with the world if I am living north of State and Madison! Thank you for your stories. They are raw, heartfelt, human, funny, and sum up so many emotions in your readers. I am so sorry about all the heartbreak you have endured with Joy. I am so glad I found your articles of Facebook today…

Thank you,
Kathy Bellair

P.S. I loved the line about needing the light to see what you were burning! My Dad’s humor was very much the same. One of the many things I have inherited from him.

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