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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 14:59:31
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  Lori decorated her apartment with colored lights and pine boughs and paper angels; Brian made eggnog; and to demonstrate that he was on his best behavior, Dad went to great lengths to make sure there was no alcohol in it before he accepted a glass. Mom passed around their presents, each wrapped in newspaper and tied with butcher's twine. Lori got a cracked lamp that might have been a Tiffany; Maureen, an antique porcelain doll that had lost most of her hair; Brian, a nineteenth-century book of poetry, missing the cover and the first few pages. My present was an orange crewneck sweater, slightly stained but made, Mom pointed out, of genuine Shetland wool.

  The family who had it the toughest on Little Hobart Street, I would have to say, was the Pastors. The mother, Ginnie Sue Pastor, was the town whore. Ginnie Sue Pastor was thirty-three years old and had eight daughters and one son. Their names all ended with Y. Her husband, Clarence Pastor, had black lung and sat on the front porch of their huge sagging house all day long, but he never smiled or waved at passersby. Just sat there like he was frozen. Everyone in town said he'd been impotent for years and none of the Pastor kids was his.

  "No, ma'am, it sure don't," I told her.

  "Well, show me, then," Ginnie Sue said.

  AS SPRING APPROACHED and the day of Lori's graduation drew closer, I lay awake at night, thinking about her life in New York City. "In exactly three months," I said to her, "you'll be living in New York." The following week, I said. "In exactly two months and three weeks, you'll be living in New York.""Would you please shut up," she said.

  The pages of the history books came alive this month when Chuck Yeager, the man who first broke the sound barrier, visited Welch High.

  Dad led me over to his cot. A neat pile of books was stacked next to it. He said his bout with TB had set him to pondering about mortality and the nature of the cosmos. He'd been stone-cold sober since entering the hospital, and reading a lot more about chaos theory, particularly about the work of Mitchell Feigenbaum, a physicist at Los Alamos who had made a study of the transition between order and turbulence. Dad said he was damned if Feigenbaum didn't make a persuasive case that turbulence was not in fact random but followed a sequential spectrum of varying frequencies. If every action in the universe that we thought was random actually conformed to a rational pattern, Dad said, that implied the existence of a divine creator, and he was beginning to rethink his atheistic creed. "I'm not saying there's a bearded old geezer named Yahweh up in the clouds deciding which football team is going to win the Super Bowl," Dad said. "But if the physics梩he quantum physics梥uggests that God exists, I'm more than willing to entertain the notion."Dad showed me some of the calculations he'd been working on. He saw me looking at his trembling fingers and held them up. "Lack of liquor or fear of God梔on't know which is causing it," he said. "Maybe both.""Promise you'll stay here until you get better," I said. "I don't want you doing the skedaddle."Dad burst into laughter that ended in another fit of coughing.

  "I didn't propose to you," Dad said. "I told you I was going to marry you."Six months later, they got married. I always thought it was the most romantic story I'd ever heard, but Mom didn't like it. She didn't think it was romantic at all.


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