a blog by Margaret Bendet

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I do like Christmastime, and I hate to admit it, but I think part of the reason has to do with the lights, the sparkle, the surfeit of cookies and candy, and all those wrapped presents. My favorite image from Christmas is the tree with presents around it. My experience has almost always been that the gifts themselves are bittersweet—not quite right, if you know …

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A Gift from Dad

It can be quite edifying to glimpse oneself from another’s perspective. I don’t often receive such bounty, and when it comes, it may take me some time to welcome it. Today, I remembered my final conversation with my father, our last one-on-one exchange, which took place almost thirty years ago. This was in 1991, a few months after my father had open-heart surgery. I wasn’t …

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Rite of Passage

A few months back, I heard inside my mind my teacher’s voice saying, “It’s not the way you think it is.” That’s all. I don’t know what “it” refers to, and so I have no idea how I am thinking about “it.” What I do know is that something I’m depending on to be a certain way is not that way. Since then, a couple …

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My Friend, the Fly

“Can you even trust a person who has a pet fly?” one of my friends commented after the vice-presidential debate last week. She was thinking about the fly that sat forever in the vice president’s snowy white hair. I had a lot of bones to pick with Mike Pence regarding that debate, but the fly was not one of them. I wrote back to my …

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Pitru Paksha

Pitru Paksha, the Hindus’ “time of the ancestors” was finished last week, but I feel that something has started for me that won’t ever end. That sounds ominous, and I don’t mean it that way. It was quite lovely to chant for people I care about who have passed on—the ancestors. For the final chant, I wore a tiny silk scarf that Joan Szabo, the …

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Henry Tunes Turns Ninety!

In the Art of the Mini Memoir class that I used teach in the local senior center, I would always bring cookies the first week. Then I’d ask for volunteers to bring cookies in the three weeks that followed. I’ll never forget the class where the first volunteer was a man I knew to be in his eighties. “But not cookies,” he said, “I’ll bring …

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A Sweet Blast from the Past

Today I opened my email and found a message from a Pat Fillinghim—a name that meant nothing to me. She wrote, “Peggy, I have tried to find you forever. Tried Terry and discovered that she’s died…” Pat! It was Pat Sayles, my friend of longest standing, the person I met in the sixth grade in the first year I moved to Tulsa. She had sent …

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Something to Defend

Since I no longer have care of a cat or a ten-pound dog, I am able to consider the finer qualities of the raccoons that live in close proximity to me. I looked up one day recently and locked eyes with a raccoon not ten feet from me, poised in the branches of the venerable cherry tree in my backyard. The two of us stopped …

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“I’m Dead”

I haven’t yet worked out what to do about the names of the dead in my address book. It’s disconcerting to have my eye fall on one of these names. “She’s gone,” I’ll think, and there is a little frisson of loss. If I were committed to electronic retrieval, I could delete that line, just wipe that person off the list. But with a physical …

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It’s Not Just a Book Reading

When we think of events where an author presents a new book, most of us picture a celebrity saying a few words to fans, people who have come to buy said book and have it signed by this great person—a famous and successful author. Thanks to the recent opening up of publishing to include self-publishing and hybrid publishing, lots of people living on Whidbey Island …

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