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Issue 18 – Assumption 2023


P. S. 51 to the End

On loneliness.


About thirty years ago I drove my aged mother from her home in Hampton Bays on Long Island to a hospital an hour away in Port Jefferson. She wanted to visit her eighty-seven-year-old younger brother. It was a pleasant drive, but she was quiet because she was worried about him. When we got to his hospital room, we were shocked to see that he was already zipped up in a black vinyl undertaker’s bag. When a nurse offered to open it for a last look, my mother declined, and we went out to a stairwell landing where she began to cry. Through her tears, she kept saying, “Now I’m all alone!” Her two other brothers had died years before, and while she had obviously grieved them, the intensity of this grief seemed much greater and her sense of isolation profound.

At the time, I could not understand. She still had my father, her adoring husband of over sixty years, and she still had me, her only child, whatever that was worth. I could understand her grief because my uncle had been the brother most beloved, but I couldn’t understand that sense of isolation, that “Now I’m all alone!”

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About the author

Paul Hundt

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Columbia Law School, Paul Hundt is a retired vice president, general counsel, and secretary of a then Fortune 500 corporation and a personal essayist.