Literary Karaoke

The Best of The Week

Day one of Hospice, things were confusing, as the Medical Director from the sub acute facility said one thing and did another. Looking back, I think my husband was already beginning to die. The first night I had to call the hospice nurse since he became more restless and spiked a fever. She told me what to do then said she'd come in the morning.

Her initial assessment was 6-8 weeks, then he'd slip into a coma. That first night I slept squeezed between the bed railing and his thin body, stroking his hair, singing Amazing Grace and Swing Low Sweet Chariot until I lost my voice and fell asleep for four hours.

Day two of Hospice, while one son had to go to Philadelphia for business, the nurse re-assessed my husband and said he had already started the transition, and had possibly 24-48 hours. She changed his meds, and said to administer more of some, every two hours. My daughter took the day off from work, quietly sitting on the sofa in front of the wood stove, with firewood…

"March on, join bravely, let us to't pell-mell
If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell."
--Shakespeare, Richard III V.iii.

Pell-mell comes from the Middle French pêle-mêle, a compound word of uncertain composition. Mêle comes from the verb mesler meaning 'to mix', but pêle is a bit of a mystery; it may be simple reduplication, or it may come from pelle (shovel) or paele (pan).…

A fossil word is a word that has fallen out of common usage except in specific idioms or sayings. This generally only refers to words that were once in popular usage, but no longer are -- for example, today we are likely to encounter 'fettle' in the phrase 'in fine fettle', but it was once a common word used in much the same way as we now use 'condition'.

Proper names are generally not considered fossil words -- Molotov cocktail is certainly the only use of the word Molotov that…