Communion Of Dreams


Living in the past.*

“Hello. Can I speak with Karen?”

“Karen? Who are you calling?”

“Is this Legacy Art & BookWorks?”

*sigh* “Legacy Art & BookWorks closed over 5 years ago. Karen had moved almost four years before that. Your database is at least 9 years out of date.”

>laughter< "Oh, sorry . . . "

* * * * * * *

Yesterday morning I finished work on "November" – the 11th chapter of the care-giving book I have been working on, tentatively titled Her Final Year. The conceit is that the book is divided into the months of a year, which track the progression of the Alzheimer’s and our experience in caring. The bulk of the material for the book is drawn from my posts here (and from my co-author’s similar blog posts about his experience in caring for his mother-in-law), supplemented with emails that my wife and I sent the family and friends, discussing the day-to-day realities of what was happening.

Anyway, November is dealing with the end-of-life experience, those final months of what we went through (not the actual passing – that is appropriately enough the final chapter). So I’ve been going through and editing/tweaking material from two years ago, when we were in the deepest and most intense part of caring for Martha Sr. Just reading that stuff leaves an emotional impact, calling up echoes and ghosts.

* * * * * * *

“So, Jim, what do you do?”

We were at the big dinner for my wife’s High School reunion this past Saturday. I went as supportive spouse. Another spouse across the table was trying to make small talk. I already knew that he was an engineer – he and my wife have worked together professionally, and they had exhausted that material for discussion.

How to answer that? I am sometimes amused at the options.

“I’m a book & document conservator.” I like this answer.

“I’m sorry?”

“I repair rare books and documents. Mostly historical stuff.”

* * * * * * *

We got an invitation to an opening reception over at the University of Missouri, for a show of portraits which included work of a friend. It was a good excuse to get out of the house a bit.

An interesting show, pairing up historical portraits with more modern work by notable artists. It was good to see our friend and his wife, some other artists that we know.

But I spent most of the time there talking with others about how much they missed my art gallery. It’s been five years, but still everyone wants to talk about how great it was, how much of a shame it was that we had to close it.

* * * * * * *

“So, where do you go shooting?” I asked the engineer, after he had mentioned that he and his son had been out that morning.

“Green Valley.”

“Nice range.”

“You shoot?”

“Yeah, a bit.” I looked up with a smile. It’s always fun to see how guys will react to this. The more macho types will sometime use it as a cue to start talking about their big, powerful guns, or bragging in some other way. But I figured this engineer would be more subtle. “Handguns, mostly, for me.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I do a fair amount of that, too. Even reload.”

Reloading is a measure of a fairly serious shooter, and someone who has the patience and attention to detail necessary. I nodded. “Yeah, me too.”

His eyebrows went up a bit. I took a business card out of my jacket pocket, flipped it over and wrote down a url on the back. I passed it across the table to him. “You might be interested in this.”

Ballistics by the inch dot com, huh?”

I smiled, explained.

* * * * * * *

“This is James Downey.”

“Um, is this Legacy Bookbindery?”

“Same thing. What can I help you with?”

“I wasn’t sure this number was any good. I got it out of a magazine article from 1993. Do you still do book conservation?”

“I do indeed. What can I help you with?”

* * * * * * *

Last night I finished the revisions for Chapter 11 of Communion of Dreams. Trimmed another 1,449 words from the text, bringing the total I have edited out in this rewrite to over 17,500. It still takes a lot of attention to get through it, but from here on there will be fewer actual sections/passages trimmed out.

* * * * * * *

He flipped over the card before he put it in his pocket. “Communion of Dreams?”

“Yeah, a novel I wrote.”

“Published?”

“Well, not yet – not conventionally, though I have a publisher interested. But over 19,000 people have downloaded it.”

He looked at me.

I shrugged. “I’ve led an odd life.”

* * * * * * *

Jim Downey

*With apologies to Ian and the gang.


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