Jack Thomas spent more than 60 years as a newspaper writer and editor. When he found out he has inoperable cancer and only a few months left to live, he filed a story of his life.
EDITING THE FINAL DETAILS of one’s life is like editing a story for the final time. It’s the last shot an editor has at making corrections, the last rewrite before the roll of the presses. It’s more painful than I anticipated to throw away files and paperwork that seemed critical to my survival just two weeks ago, and today, are all trash. Like the manual for the TV that broke down four years ago, and notebooks for stories that will never be written, and from former girlfriends, letters whose value will plummet the day I die. Filling wastebasket after wastebasket is a regrettable reminder that I have squandered much of my life on trivia.
It’s a lovely, difficult meditation and reflection on one life, written with conviction and sincerity, and without the kind of maudlin pity or solipsism that would be easy to fall into.