The Pain of Dying Alone

One of the saddest days of my nursing career happened when I made shift rounds and found that an elderly patient was in the throes of death, alone. I didn't know him, but I stayed with him until his final breath. No one should have to die alone. But with COVID-19, they are and will continue to die with no loved ones nearby.

Why I Write

I have been writing now — officially, professionally, occasionally happily — for 35 years, and I don't believe I have ever, until now, committed to paper exactly why. So, let's have at it. I write to...

Staying Calm in the Face of Trumpism

Just a few days later I was presented, apparently by cosmic fate, two items that have given me a new perspective on how Facebook and other social media have helped to make compromise nearly impossible and how I, in turn, could make my role in protesting obscene policies more effective, rational, and humane.

Gone Was the Wind

If even a slight breeze had strolled through the Donora valley that week the smoke would have broken up, giving residents some respite. But no, there was no breeze to be had, not in Donora, nor in Monessen to the south, nor in Monongahela to the north.

Donora’s Field of Dreams

Probably the most famous player to ever sprint down this field was the legendary Joseph "Joe Cool" Montana. Montana was unequivocally one of the greatest quarterbacks in history and a Hall of Fame pick in his first year of eligibility. And he played here, right here in Donora, on Legion Field, where all Ringgold games were played.

Death in Donora

On Tuesday October 26, the air over Donora became foggy from cool air being trapped beneath warmer air above in what meteorologists term a temperature inversion. Normally inversions last less than a day, but this one lasted a devastating five days. Within two days the fog had turned into a stinging, yellowish-gray shroud so thick that many people couldn't drive, couldn't even walk without stumbling. "It was so bad," said one resident, "that I'd accidentally step off the curb and turn my ankle because I couldn't see my feet."