Saturday, May 30, 2015

Time to Write Phyllis Tickle that Appreciation Note

I was sad to hear that Phyllis Tickle has been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  I was also sad to learn that her husband had died recently.

She is 81 years old, so why am I surprised that death moves to the forefront of her narrative?

But she seems so ageless that it's hard to imagine that she, too, will die.  And now it looks like her death will be sooner, rather than later.  Her prognosis is less than a year to live.

This recent article shows that she's in good spirits about the situation:

“'At 81 you figure you’re going to die of something, and sooner rather than later,' she says, sitting at her kitchen table for her first interview about her diagnosis. 'I could almost embrace this, that, OK, now I know what it’s probably going to be, and probably how much time there is. So you can clean up some of the mess you’ve made and tie up some of the loose ends.'

'I am no more afraid of dying than I am of, I don’t know, drinking this coffee,' she continues, pointing to her mug. (It’s actually filled with Postum since she’s had to give up caffeine. She remains, thankful, though, that she can still drink a nightly whiskey.  'Jack Daniels, of course!' she says, shocked at the suggestion that a Tennessee native would drink anything else.)"

Writer David Gibson sums up her work this way:  "Taken together, Tickle’s works combine the sprawling scope of historian Karen Armstrong with the fine-grained command of sociologist Robert Bellah and the rural sensibilities of poet Wendell Berry. Throw in a dash of Thomas Merton’s sense and spirituality for good measure."

As she dies, I expect new insights from her on this chapter that closes on us all.

Should I write to her?  Should I tell her how much her work has meant to me?  If I want to do that while she's here with us, in a physical form that we recognize, I should write soon.

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