Anything Mentionable, about my friend Fred, about writing and life

Stories from Tim.

Two scenes from the Battle of the Bulge; one make-believe, the other too real.

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“It makes us so much stronger and we end up connecting on so many levels,” she said. “People are scared to talk about it. There is still the stigma. It’s still taboo. But I feel if we just talk about it, more people would get help. It would be a start.”

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It was nerve-wracking. In considering whether the Kimbell should buy the painting, I said to myself, “If we don’t buy it and it ends up being Michelangelo, I’ll be haunted by it for the rest of my life. But it will be worse if we buy it and it turns out NOT to be Michelangelo!” We looked at the painting as critically as possibly, and tried to come up with every convincing argument that could be made against the attribution. We could find none.

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“The prayerful listening and counseling that these two men do is one of the most effective instruments for the healing of minds and souls that I know about anywhere in the world,” said nationally known pastor and sociologist Tony Campolo. “What a treasure it is for us to have these men serving so faithfully at work that is essential and, yet, has been left largely undone.”

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“It’s so freeing, to have the freedom to give without needing anything in return. Our connection with God is exactly that. It’s love. That’s it.”

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It sounds almost ridiculous, someone’s overly sanguine fantasy of youth. But I was there. I want to go back to Chet’s if only for a night, only for an hour, hang with my brother and the guys, and feel again what it’s like to be young and without care. But I can’t. I guess that’s what memories are for, memories and the odd sip of Mountain Dew.

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In the run up to the novel’s publication last month, my greatest concern was that readers of I’m Proud of You would find the language and the rawest scenes offensive or off-putting.

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“I was four years old,” Peggy told me. “The only thing I remember was that he was going to be leaving for the war and he came and picked me up and held me. Other than that, I really don’t remember him at all. I remember seeing Saving Private Ryan and I think I had my eyes closed most of the time. The only thing I could think of was that I hoped he died right away and didn’t have to suffer.”

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I told him why I was calling, that I had always admired him, so much so that a hero of my first novel bears his name.I heard a familiar chuckle at the other end of the line. He chuckled for a long time.

“That’s okay,” he said finally. “At least I’ll be in a book somewhere.”

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Why are you any less miraculous because you happened to be born on Earth?

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“Jubilate Deo (Praise God.) Steve has already known what healing is all about. The best kind of all. We never know, do we? Every day is a gift to each one of; no matter what our present prognosis happens to be.

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The next tears ran down her face, and Claire settled deeper into the sofa. Wendell stood and limped from the room, returning seconds later with a box of Kleenex. He pulled out two, laid them next to her half-eaten cookie, and returned to the wicker chair.

“My wife taught me something besides how to keep up a garden,” Wendell said. “Selma used to say: ‘Anything mentionable is manageable.’”

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