It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to post here. First, that was because the new semester was starting, but then right at the end of February I got a call from my mother saying she needed me at home. The hospice nurse had told her it was time to find a skilled nursing facility in which my father could receive the kind of care he needed for the final days of his life. So I spent the first twenty days of March arranging to fly to Texas, looking after my dad, finding a nearby nursing home, witnessing his death, arranging his funeral, writing a eulogy, and helping my mother through the first two weeks of her new life on her own.
It has been a difficult time for all of us, and I have a new comprehension of the experiences of some of the people I have studied over the past twenty years. I feel especially close right now to Maria E. Wood, whose journal was the first that I transcribed and encoded with students in a U.S. Women’s History course in fall 2004. Wood’s father died during the time she kept the journal, and she recorded her thoughts and her efforts to feel close to him after his death. Hers was a deep and wrenching grief for a father from whom she had never lived apart, and mine differs in that I have not lived with my parents for over thirty years.
I feel closer to Wood nevertheless, and like her I must now make my own way in the world, looking after my mother as well as myself. And so I return to teaching, research, and writing, ready to record here more regularly ongoing developments in the Wheaton College Digital History Project as well as my thoughts about digital humanities and liberal education.