- My Dad used to tell a story about a time when he was five years old. He was out playing in a field by himself, doing that stereotypical thing that children should never do — playing with matches. The end result was predictable for all even slightly above five years old. He managed to set the field on fire and he had no idea how to put it out. The next thing he knew, he heard sirens screaming in his direction and he panicked. He ran home, told his mother what he had done and begged her to hide him. So she stashed him behind the piano and he waited for his inevitable doom. The imagination of a child is a powerful thing. And when you’re cowering behind a piano with nothing else to do, you can come up with any number of exquisite tortures that could be imposed on you. In fact, those imagined punishments are often far worse than what the reality ultimately turns out to be. Eventually, a police officer showed up at the door. My grandmother let him in and the two of them proceeded to have a conversation about my future father. My Dad always told the story from his perspective as a five year old, but I suspect that more was going on in that conversation than he was aware of.
- ("Thirty years ago, next month, I stood at the grave side of my grandmother, my father's mother. Many said her death was a blessing. After all, she had been sick for many years, a victim of that dreaded disease, Alzheimer's, which steals away our loved ones one memory at a time. This was my first funeral as a young teenager and so I as unsure of how to act, where to stand, what to feel...")
- ("'Found myself in charge, gave myself a special.' Those words from are legendary within the Chicago Fire Department. They come from the days when Chicago firefighters worked 24 hours on and 24 hours off throughout the entire year. They had very little vacation time. But occasionally an officer would grant a firefighter an unscheduled day off; a special....")
- ("You may have heard of Edwin Booth. In 1865, he was the most distinguished actor of his time, something like an Anthony Hopkins of the American stage. He was one of the greatest actors the world has ever seen. But he had a horrible life; it seemed as if he lived under a cloud...")