Summary of “There’s No Way To Prepare For Grief”

Time is of the essence, he said in September of 2004 as he sat with his siblings in my aunt’s condo in Connecticut, trying to understand why my mother’s body had been giving way.
Time is of the essence, my uncle told me, when just a week and half later, my mother unexpectedly fell into cardiac and respiratory arrest, and was intubated and put on a ventilator in the ICU. I wasn’t sure what my uncle meant then – was he still hopeful? But I understood that this was his way of preparing for his sister’s inevitable death.
My extended family could not speak to one another in our grief.
Without my mother, we fell into our own pockets of Connecticut, where there were no neighbors who looked like us; no restaurants in which we could convene that served the Cantonese food my parents grew up eating in Hong Kong and Guangzhou; no places where we could dependably hear Chinese dialects.
How could we attempt to steel ourselves for all the ways these American systems have failed us – were never meant for some of us – and have left our loved ones and the most vulnerable to die? It’s the time it takes to learn the answers to questions like this that feel so excruciating; it’s seeing tragedies unfold in slow motion; it’s the plodding approach of an inevitable grief.
Despite his timing, my uncle’s mantra was ultimately one of hope, which is a useful emotion to channel in times of uncertainty.
You can’t prepare for everything; you can’t ready yourself for the way loss shocks and stuns and debilitates.
Look after all of us, okay? I hoped that now, in death, wherever he was, that he no longer felt so pressed for time.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Reinventing Grief in an Era of Enforced Isolation”

Father Michael, a priest my family has never met, in a city we never identified, gave my father a version of the last rites over the telephone on the night of April 4th. My father, John Collins, had received a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia in January.
There were cancelled appointments, appointments rescheduled for Zoom; Zoom appointments cancelled, too, when my father’s new, outpatient doctors, having determined that it was too risky for him to continue commuting to Durham, acknowledged that they couldn’t very well devise a treatment plan without being able to physically examine him.
On the afternoon of April 3rd, my father entered a hospice center.
Her friend’s sister-in-law’s acquaintance finally found a willing Father Michael somewhere in California.
I called my mother at 6:19, and she told me that my father had died.
When we’d last pushed for a prognosis, in early March, my father’s doctors had guessed that he had somewhere between a year and eighteen months left to live.
Even if I made it home in time to see my father, I might transmit the coronavirus to my mother, who is seventy, or to other people.
As I spoke to my mother on the morning of the fifth, a nurse came into the room to tell her that my father’s possessions-white socks, a phone charger-would be returned to her.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Baseball, Fiction, and Life: Roger Angell’s Era-Spanning Career at The New Yorker”

In 1944, Roger Angell sold a short story to The New Yorker.
What followed, a career at The New Yorker now in its eighth decade, has spanned a range of roles and genres that would have seemed inconceivable in 1944, some of them because they did not exist until Angell invented them.
He soon abandoned writing fiction for editing it, joining the fiction department in 1956.
Six years later, after a suggestion from William Shawn, Angell headed to Sarasota for baseball’s spring training; since then, his writing about the sport has been the standard by which others are measured.
In 2014, the National Baseball Hall of Fame gave him the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, its highest honor for writers.
For many years, Angell was known outside The New Yorker mostly as a baseball writer.
His essays about Martinis, divorce, and the Second World War were piercing and lively, funny and occasionally just very deeply sad. He had been known as a great baseball writer-now it was clear that he was a great writer.
Angell is now ninety-nine, and it is tempting to view him as a keeper of institutional memory, a plaque on the wall reading “This was The New Yorker.” And he can tell anecdotes about writers and editors from all eras of the magazine.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Fact or Fiction: Do Babies Resemble Their Fathers More Than Their Mothers?”

A common bit of parenting folklore holds that babies tend to look more like their fathers than their mothers, a claim with a reasonable evolutionary explanation.
The paternal-resemblance hypothesis got some scientific backing in 1995, when a study in Nature by Nicholas Christenfeld and Emily Hill of the University of California, San Diego, showed that people were much better at matching photos of one-year-old children with pictures of their fathers than with photos of their mothers.
Some studies have even found that newborns tend to resemble their mothers more than their fathers.
In a photo-matching trial with pictures of one-, three- and five-year-old children and their parents, subjects identified mothers and fathers equally well.
“Our research, on a much larger sample of babies than Christenfeld and Hill’s, shows that some babies resemble their father more, some babies resemble their mother more, and most babies resemble both parents to about the same extent,” says Paola Bressan, a psychologist at the University of Padova in Italy who co-authored the 2004 study.
Bressan added that, to the best of her knowledge, “No study has either replicated or supported” the 1995 finding that babies preferentially resemble their fathers.
Two other studies in Evolution & Human Behavior, one in 2000 and one in 2007, found that newborns actually look more like their mothers than their fathers in the first three days of their lives, as judged by unrelated assessors.
“The bias in how mothers remark resemblance does not reflect actual resemblance and may be an evolved or conditioned response to assure domestic fathers of their paternity,” the researchers wrote.

The orginal article.

Summary of “When Kids Have to Act Like Parents, It Affects Them for Life”

Kiesel’s story is one of what psychologists refer to as destructive parentification-a form of emotional abuse or neglect where a child becomes the caregiver to their parent or sibling.
There is virtually no empirical research on how this affects relationship dynamics later in life-both with siblings and others.
From the age of eight until she left home at 15, Rene, who asked to be identified by only her first name because she was concerned about upsetting her family, says she would pick up her three younger siblings from day care, bring them home, feed and bathe them, read them stories, and put them to bed.
Just as Rene took care of her younger siblings, she and her older brother relied on each other for emotional support.
Just as Wendy assumed the role of “Mother” for the Lost Boys in Peter Pan, parentified siblings often forge symbiotic relationships, where they meet each others’ needs for guardians in a lot of different ways.
“Mothers who were overburdened by taking care of their parents during childhood have a poorer understanding of their infant’s developmental needs and limitations,” explained Nuttall.
How can a parentified sibling heal? Nakazawa believes that recognizing how these psychological puzzle pieces all fit together can be a step in the right direction.
For Kiesel, the freelance writer who cared for her brother from a young age, counseling and Al-Anon have helped her feel less personally responsible for her brother, though she laments the lack of support networks for siblings who have been parentified and have their own specific needs.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Treating People With Brain Injuries Helped Me Forgive My Mother”

I remember poring over different case studies, searching for any recognizable symptoms that might be associated with the parts of her brain that had been damaged, anything that would help me understand my mother better.
Long before I was born, when my mother was 17, she collapsed in her high school’s hallway after suffering a massive aneurysm when a tangle of blood vessels burst in her right frontal lobe, bleeding into her brain.
My mother was lucky that she didn’t have to relearn how to walk or talk.
Of course, my mother would sometimes come to mind at the brain injury center, though I tried to stay focused on the same mundane tasks interns in all kinds of offices are given: filing, organizing, and ordering lunches.
At the age of 17 – the same age my mother was when she experienced her brain aneurysm – I stepped up into the parent role.
In the developmental psychology class I took during my sophomore year at Drexel, I learned about attachment theory, how crucial it is for a baby’s development to bond with their mother after birth, and how important it is for their emotional development that they feel safe in her arms.
I never made it to medical school, but the experience did unlock my ability to re-think and write about my life – and helped salvage my relationship with my mother.
They say the human brain is a mystery, an unknowable enigma, and for so much of my life my mother has been exactly that: a riddle I’ve never been able to solve.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘The Story of a Weird World I Was Warned Never to Tell'”

Stan and Ruth told Pauline that this was their chance to finally be together, they had been in love for many years, but they had never been able to act on their feelings.
“The story was that some people who had been around us during my childhood, who were involved with organised crime, had been picked up – arrested, killed or otherwise disappeared – and then replaced by doubles,” Pauline says.
Pauline and her mother also received dozens of letters from people inside the weird world – from her father and godfather, for example, who were being held in a top secret prison there, Stan said.
Despite being plagued by doubts, Pauline always had to acknowledge that the two people telling her this incredible story were her mother and Stan – the most trustworthy people she knew.
Stan had made it clear to Pauline and Ruth that they must never go to the police to report any of the threats and strange goings-on in their lives – the police, he said, couldn’t be trusted.
What worried her was that if Pauline no longer believed the story she would be putting herself in danger.
Pauline spent months trying to convince her mother that Stan had been lying to them, while her mother tried to convince Pauline that she was wrong.
Pauline’s relationship with her mother never entirely recovered, though it improved when Pauline started a family.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Mourning My Only Brother … and Then Learning I Had Another All Along”

Another took Polaroid selfies in our swimming pool when we weren’t home, so I first thought Tony must be one of Dad’s patients – a crazy person claiming to be his therapist’s illegitimate child.
Tony’s posts were the kinds of things I’d see on my friends’ walls: a turntable playing a ’70s tune, a homemade tortilla browning in a cast iron pan, a picture of a camper van.
My father’s sister, my Aunt Carol, asked if she could friend Tony.
Tony told me that, growing up, his mom never talked about his Bio Dad. Tony always thought that his dad’s name was Stephen because his middle name is Stephen.
Perhaps not wanting to run into Tony and his mother at the grocery store was a reason as well.
At one point, after making Tony laugh with a Matthew story, I said, “He would have liked you.” And Tony said, “Too late.”
He’d asked to come, and Tony agreed, though Dad had barely said a word to me about the Tony situation.
Tony messaged me that June to tell me he was knee-deep in the book.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Much Do Parents Matter?”

“[W]e have been prodigal and blind in our use of these priceless records,” but the curious-minded could change that, by seeking to “Read the answers written down in the ways of life of different peoples.” In other words: All over the world, parents are trying to figure out how to parent-and they have been for millennia.
Their response: Parents don’t matter as much as many parents think they do.
The point of their global survey isn’t to pass judgment on, say, Japanese parents sharing a bed with their kids or Mexican parents leaving young children home alone.
I spoke with the LeVines about how Indian parents toilet-train, how Japanese teachers model empathy to preschoolers, and how couples who co-sleep manage to have sex.
Robert LeVine: We hope that by emphasizing the resilience of kids and demonstrating it, however anecdotally, in different cultures, we can get American parents to see that resilience is a powerful force in child development, and that kids might well turn out alright even if you don’t micromanage every aspect of their development.
Robert: We want people to start thinking that parents matter in a different way-that parents are sponsors of their children’s development, but not that everything you do becomes part of that child’s psychology.
One reads, endlessly, columns in the newspaper about how parents of young children, even though the children are sleeping in another room, they still don’t seem to have sex very often.
Sarah: The equivalent would be: We [Americans] teach a child how to cross-country ski, but [in India] they want Olympic skiers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Five Stirring Stanzas That Proved a Poem Can Help End a War”

The woman who wrote the poem was 28-year-old Zseni Várnai, my grandmother’s aunt.
No battle will lead these soldiers to true glory, Várnai’s poem emphasizes.
Várnai’s poem had helped invoke an insurrection.
With her photo on cheerful Pinterest tableaus with captions like, “Zseni Várnai: Mama,” casual readers would hardly associate the poet with topics like war and mutiny.
Still, the changing political climate can’t entirely explain how Várnai’s poetry came to be perceived as more feminine than political, especially because she continued publishing prolifically after the war and stayed involved with progressive political organizations in Budapest.
Várnai seemed cognizant of the limitations imposed on her as a woman when she wrote “To my soldier-son.” The poem itself hinges on inverting gender roles and reclaiming a voice – the mother’s voice – that authorities don’t want to acknowledge.
Sanders tipped his hat to Várnai for her unwavering pacifism during WWI he adds in his 1985 essay “Hungarian Writers and Literature in World War I,” her warmongering peers “Were incomparably greater artists.” Even the scholar Mario D. Fenyo, whose father founded “Nyugat,” admits in “Literature and Political Change: Budapest, 1908-1918” that “Her poetry seldom hit the mark.” The critical opinion seems united: Várnai was second-rate.
Her daughter Mária Peterdi stayed in Europe after World War II and became an Egyptologist; eventually, she helped her mother write “Like a Storm, the Leaf,” one of Várnai’s several autobiographical works.

The orginal article.