The Continuing Silence

Paul, beloved friend,

Are you there?

Can you hear me, can you hear or feel or know the love I send?

Three weeks, four, have passed without a letter from my friend.

My friend kept me informed: he told me of the tribe of cats who lived in his caritas, his agape, his lovingkindness.  He called each of them by name.

My friend wrote of the roadrunner (likewise given a name; he kept me apprised of the rattlesnakes that swarmed in his wilderness places, as well as of the evangelist rattlesnakes on tv, and of the rattlesnakes who called by phone to extort from him in the name of righteousness.

My friend wrote of his work in the rivers of venereal pus that flowed among his captive patients in WWII. He wrote of aviation, of the sober joys and disciplines of flight. He wrote of his instructor, one Pemberton, whose memory and example he cherished.

My friend taught this doctor, a long generation younger than he, much of the medicine that had escaped him in his undergraduate days, and that eluded him until the happy day that Paul strode into his life and became a preceptor.

My friend wrote of prayer, of his habitation in the house of prayer.

My friend wrote on his bended knees as he prayed for his fracturing nation.

My friend sent me funny stories, he sent me risque stories, he sent me the news from the frontiers of science, and he sent me the news of tabloid headline that were of little science.These he derided with fine despatch.

My friend wrote often of the good people he had known, people who have long passed but whose good name and memory he kept alive with his remarkable recall and his great respect.

My friend wrote of Beverley who was the light of his life and the fire of his loins. He revered her, he missed and he yearned for her perpetually. Of her he wrote, ‘Great was the joy in heaven when she entered that kingdom’.

My friend’s body was wearying, wearing out, but his mind remained scythe-sharp.

My friend, his integrity unbending, was weakened by the cheating and the chicanery of the mendicants who plagued him. I felt Paul’s righteous being was affronted and his spirit distressed by these cheats.

My friend had standards and he never wavered.

My friend loved the human frame, the creation whose anatomy and parts he new so well. He saw in that frame the work of his Creator.

My friend wrote only weeks ago to report evidence of brain function persisting AFTER death.  What did he think of that? What now, stricken mute by stroke, does Paul think?

How are the mighty fallen.

My friend wrote to me with love. He wrote and he told me he was ready.

I am not ready.

Who, of Paul’s eighty faithful readers, can be ready?

Paul, I know nought of those awaiting your arrival above, but here on earth, great will the weeping if you leave us.

Paul, can you hear me?

Do you know our love?




2 thoughts on “The Continuing Silence

    • my old friend jan wrote, simply, ‘oh howard…’

      Later she added:

      Hi – no, just two words. I didn’t know what else to say…..

      May I share a poem, not totally applicable, but one which has spoken for me many times….

      When a friend dies
      By Marge Piercy

      When a friend dies
      the salmon run no fatter.
      The wheat harvest will feed no more bellies.
      Nothing is won by endurance
      but endurance.
      A hunger sucks at the mind
      for gone colour after the last bronze
      chrysanthemum is withered by frost.
      A hunger drains the day,
      a homely sore gap
      after a tooth is pulled,
      a red giant gone nova,
      an empty place in the sky
      sliding down the arch
      after Orion in night as wide
      as a sleepless staring eye.
      When pain and fatigue wrestle
      fatigue wins. The eye shuts.
      Then the pain rises again at dawn.
      At first you can stare at it,
      Then it blinds you.

      There’s something about being 70, I have found, that means so many we love are lost to us in so many ways….



      I am happy to report to Jan and to all, better news has arrived from Phoenix:

      Hello & good morning to all

      This is Bob, Paul’s eldest son, writing on behalf of the “Fundamental Harmonic”! He sends you all his best wishes and I have attached a photo taken 30 minutes ago so you can attest to his current state of being! He asked me to specifically advise that he wishes he could write to each of you as prior but his lingering single-handedness is keeping him from using that option at this time… He has good use and control of his left hand but being right hand dominate for 98 years has provided some serious challenges that were not prior anticipated…

      The photo shows him sitting on his beloved Porch with Sylvester, his “major domo” feral cat and/or his Sgt. at Arms (depending on the day and moment!) (just out of the picture frame) both enjoying the beautiful day here in Phoenix.

      His physical condition continues to improve slowly; no doubt due to the numerous prayers and good wishes emitting from all his dear friends. He has gained a few needed pounds of body weight but remains very unsteady in taking steps. There exists some lingering mental “fuzziness” in forming thoughts although within a few seconds or minutes, he often arrives at the proper articulation of his thinking… His right side paralysis continues to slowly improve and he is now able to pick up small objects with his right hand… It takes a few minutes but small improvements are to be appreciated.

      Dad has “in-home” 24×7 professional care provided by rotating cadre of loving women that are taking excellent care of his routine needs. They shop for groceries, cook meals, help him up from chairs, help him into bed, etc… Additionally, Hospice of the Valley visits 2X/wk to provide baths and also provide any more personal items requiring the attention of a professional visiting RN. His spirits remain fair to good and he is candidly “amazed” at his continued existence! He told me he had surprised himself in many ways; including the fact of his sitting in his chair this morning!

      He thinks of all of you often and truly wishes he could communicate as prior but that may not occur in the near future. Typing and using his computer is a skill that needs to be refreshed and in some cases, completely relearned. To do this, he needs some bi-handed dexterity that eludes him at this time. I’m hoping I can teach him to use his laptop and voice to continue the normal communications routine. We’ll see how that goes…

      Nikki visits him several times/wk and between John’s family and mine, he received a constant stream of family visitors. Additionally, we have several security cameras placed in strategic home locations and can view his progress in real time.

      I noticed 67 new emails yet unread in his Inbox and have printed several for him to read… I think I will continue to do this for him so if you would like, kindly send a email and about 1X/wk I or Nikki or John will print them and he can dictate responses for us to pen back to you…

      Thanks for your continued prayers and interest in his wellbeing!

      Kindest best wishes to you all!

      Bob Jarrett for PBJMD


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