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“I’d like to do something meaningful with what’s left of my life,” Mother says after telling me about the book she’s just finished reading about the work author Danielle Steele does with homeless people.

“What would you like to do?” I ask her.

“Well, I know a lot of women who are lonely,” she says, “and I was thinking that if I could take them to lunch that might be something.”

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For twelve and a half hours beginning at 3:30 a.m. today, Thursday 11/29/12, we are either sitting still in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or cutting doughnuts, going around and around the area where a passenger is believed to have gone overboard.

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The U.S. Coast Guard joins in the search with two cutters, a helicopter, and a fixed-wing plane, and passengers watching from aboard the ship do what people do: they make up stories about the man gone overboard. Some say he was traveling with his wife and a child, others say he was traveling only with his wife. Some say he and his wife were in marriage counseling. Some say he was extremely drunk, others say they were with him and he was upbeat. Some wonder how long he could survive, factoring in such factors as water temperature, where he entered the water in relation to the ship’s engines, and the proximity of sea life. Some are frustrated at missing the beach stop – the last chance to get their toes in the sand – originally scheduled for tomorrow; some pray for his family. A sketch of his face remains on our tv screens throughout the day while he captain comes on the intercom periodically, pleading for anybody with any information to come forward, especially the person who first reported the incident in the dark thirty hours of the morning. People spend the day glued to one side of the ship or another – some with binoculars – hoping to be the one to call out “There he is! I see him!” It’s a call nobody gets to make.

My daughter and I go see a movie late tonight – we’ve seen this movie several times, but we need the quiet and distraction. My husband fetches us cookies while we are gone.

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He asks to join a trivia game team, and she asks me about my stitching, where did my ideas come from, how long will it take me to finish – that kind of thing. He walks more slowly now, his back rather bent, and she gets around via a motorized scooter. Stanley Gray had just come out of the service in 1945, and when he went to a resort in New York to celebrate July 4, he asked the pretty young woman named Judith to dance.

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The following year, he asked her to marry him, and she said “Yes” – just what he was hoping she’d say. “Yesterday was our 66th wedding anniversary,” he said, standing a little bit straighter in the telling. “We’ve still got each other, and we still have fun. You can’t ask for more than that.”

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(Today I’m posting this here and over at Gone With The Thread. I don’t ever double-post, but today, well today I just had to.)