Here’s my latest essay for a book I’m working on for Blue Heron Book Works. The title is ‘Man Has Premonition of Own Death,’ which was the actual headline on a 1920s newspaper article about the tragic death of young mill worker Thomas Crooks, 23, who was my great-uncle.


I used to be able to speak. Some people, in fact, say that sometimes they couldn’t get me to shut up. They say this amiably — but it’s true. I love telling stories. I like to talk with people. I csn’t help myself.

But illness – a tumor, now shrunken and still shrinking, pressed against my vocal cords — did what friends and family and attempts at self-control couldn’t do.

I really haven’t been able to talk since January — eight months of sometimes being hoarse and gravelly, sometimes being barely able to whisper. Thirty-two weeks of living in an alien world of silent isolation. I rarely call people on the phone or answer their calls. When I try to order coffee at the drive-up speaker, the friendly folks at Dunkin’ Donuts have trouble understanding, then act like I’m some kind of invalid when I pull up at the window.
I can’t blame them. I sound awful — when you can even hear me.

But now the offending tumor has shrunk so much that I am able to undergo a relatively routine outpatient procedure to manipulate my vocal cords — and restoring my voice.
It’s scheduled for two weeks from today. I’ll be required to not talk for a day or two, and the throat doctor said it takes to a week for the procedure to take full effect.

After that? I’m ordering coffee. Then expect a phone call. You won’t be able to shut me up.

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