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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Ward

Each day began with the entrance of the nurse, Madame Charoing, at exactly six, turning on the lights with a quiet, but determined, Bonjour messieurs,” which meant, “All right, gentlemen, it is time to get those bowels moving. Those of you who are immobile have ten minutes before I return to collect the bedpans and urinals. If they are not full, they will not be collected until the next shift, which means they will sit, stinking up the ward, until four.”

Step By Step

Wisdom must always be balanced by compassion, and compassion must be balanced by wisdom. We cannot have peace without this balance. I would like to share three stories to illustrate this.

Growing Old Is Not For Sissies

We struggle to find dignity in aging. True, we tell ourselves, the bones grow more brittle, the eyes fail — but there is still the wealth of memory, there is still the heart. The elderly have their rightful place, we assure ourselves — a place ensconced within our stereotypes.

The Dig

The fog in the streets that morning was of the low, wet variety that gently hugs the California coast on those days when the sun is going to roast the beaches, making the inland valleys unbearable. It would be a hot one in the field. Sure enough, just after Sandra picked me up in her battered old Audi and proceeded through Golden Gate Park to pick up Roberto, the fog began to lift.



Mac took twenty toothpicks out of his pocket and built a fort around his beer. He didn’t want to look at Eddie. He knew Eddie was headed for trouble.

Blue Avenue

We sit in the sunlit breakfast room of our apartment, in white terry-cloth robes that have our initials monogrammed in navy just above our hearts. The robes are Christmas gifts from Bill, his way of showing he is still committed to the relationship even though the wedding date has not been set. A vinegary odor of fresh paint clings to the half-drawn draperies, to the seat covers of our rattan chairs, and to our bathrobes; the sweet rolls taste like pale yellow walls.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write


Late one night teenagers drape the oak trees in the front yard with toilet paper, a benign suburban ritual. Clara watches from the guest room window and thinks she sees Nazi soldiers. She sits up all night, too terrified to wake us or to move. The next morning on the way to the airport, I reassure her and myself that it was an isolated flashback. Later, back in her Miami Beach apartment, Clara sees a little girl and an old man in her closet. She calls me one day and describes tall, pale-faced Hasidim dressed in black who loiter on her balcony. They shake their fingers at her, then follow her indoors and disturb her sleep. I fly down to rescue her from her visions, and me from my guilt.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


Nor is it certain how long you will live. . . . Your life is like the flame of a butter lamp in a hurricane, a bubble on water, or a drop of dew on a blade of grass.

Kalu Rinpoche

More Quotations ▸
We’re Counting on You

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