Robert C. Corthell, 1948-2017: Trucker, Teacher, Family Man

by Bill Brenner November 9, 2017 Gratitude

Robert C. Corthell of Haverhill, Mass., died peacefully at Lahey Burlington Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, surrounded by loved ones, after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He was 69. He fought his brief illness with the same stubbornness and grit by which he lived. His family and friends knew him as Bob, Bobby, Dad and Grandpa. He was born and raised in Haverhill and, after serving in the U.S. Army, spent the rest of his life there,…  [Read More]

When Listening Is Better Than Giving Advice

by Bill Brenner March 15, 2016 Communication skills for the crazy

Sometimes when I’m going through a rough patch or just having a ridiculously annoying day, I need to vent. To do so productively and thus feel better, I need a good listener around. Unfortunately, people these days don’t want to listen. They have a big megaphone that is the Internet, and they can’t bear not to use it. So they take to social media and give advice. Mood music: In saying that, I realize two…  [Read More]

Don’t Be Embarrassed When People Rescue You

by Bill Brenner November 20, 2015 Dealing with life

I was recently talking to a friend who has had a shitty couple of years, with illness and death in the family. He noted that he’s gotten a lot of support from friends, family and colleagues along the way and that he’s embarrassed about it. I get where he’s coming from. Mood music: Whenever I’ve experienced the things he is going through, I’ve felt a little embarrassed when people come to me with sympathy and…  [Read More]

Dad Was a Survivor

by Bill Brenner June 29, 2015 Family

Note: This is not Dad’s official obituary — just my tribute to him. Thursday we gathered by Dad’s bedside to say goodbye. He lived for three more days. That was Dad. He was a survivor, tougher than leather and stubborn to the last. Around 3 this afternoon, his journey finally ended. Mood music: The last two months with him were a gift. By the end, nothing was left unsaid. He knew how I felt about him and I knew…  [Read More]

Happy Birthday to a Joyful Little Soul

by Bill Brenner March 18, 2014 Family

Three years ago today, my nephew Owen was born. We just celebrated his third birthday, but I wanted to say a little something here. Think of it as my personalized birthday card to him. First, a video for Owen’s amusement, which also has some good advice: Let me tell you a few things about Owen: He is one of the most joyful souls I’ve ever met. He’s always laughing, excited by every new wonder. He used…  [Read More]

Punch-Drunk Love

by Bill Brenner May 20, 2013 Love

In one of those bizarre flashbacks triggered by someone’s bad singing, I remembered something amusing about my maternal grandparents yesterday. During a Cub Scout overnight on the U.S.S. Salem, someone in our group started singing the jingle for The Clapper. You might remember the commercial with old people clapping their hands to turn lights on and off with the song, “Clap on! Clap off! The Clapper!” Mood video: I remember Nana and Papa having a…  [Read More]

What Arline Corthell Left Behind

by Bill Brenner May 15, 2013 Love

Erin’s paternal grandmother passed away yesterday. Although she’s gone, she leaves behind memories to treasure and influences to carry on. Memories Grammie had a gift for focusing on one person at a time and engaging them in deep conversation. She did most of the talking, of course. She could, as my sister-in-law Amanda put it, talk the ears off of a brick wall. She had beautiful, penetrating eyes that focused on you and grabbed you like…  [Read More]

Together We Fill Gaps

by Bill Brenner May 14, 2013 Love

I did some more thinking after writing yesterday’s “Burden of Being Upright” post, and I think I have a better perspective. I was frustrated all day knowing that I need frequent wake-up calls. I want to be so good all the time that I’ll never need them. Truth is, I’m always going to need it. But what’s important is what a person does when the alarm sounds. Several years ago, before I was released from…  [Read More]

Why This Catholic Supports Marriage Equality

by Bill Brenner March 27, 2013 Love

Yesterday many friends changed their Facebook profile pics to a red box with two horizontal lines in the center in support of marriage equality. I did as well, though I was more punk rock about it, selecting a red box with four vertical lines (the logo for the band Black Flag). Mood music: [spotify:track:4kFfFe38CRVnTsakUTL4E4] I doubt all this online activism will influence the US Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. The justices march to their…  [Read More]

Love in the Grammar Trenches

by Bill Brenner March 4, 2013 Love

Since Erin and I are both writers-editors, there’s almost a Valentine’s-Day quality to this National Grammar Day. It can be a dangerous thing putting two wordsmiths together in holy matrimony, and yet we’ve managed to keep it going. How, you ask? I’ve been thinking about that. A basic truth about people who work with grammar for a living: Put more than one in the same room for long periods and someone gets roughed up. People…  [Read More]