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A Piece of My Mind
March 21, 2012

A Display of Affection

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: University of Wisconsin, Madison (

JAMA. 2012;307(11):1149-1150. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.314

The tears came without warning, as an image appeared in my head, unbidden, of one of my final days with Grumpa.

My family and I had come to Kewanee a few months prior to my grandfather's deterioration. Living in the city had been getting to be too much: three kids with another one planned, shoveling out the car after another Chicago blizzard, Cubs fans shouting outside our door in a postgame delirium, tiny backyard—little Ben's home runs over the fence becoming very routine, which does take away some of the excitement. The suburbs meant doubling the commute and doubling the mortgage. Were there any other options? We finally considered Kewanee—population 12 000, Hog Capital of the World, where my mom had been born and raised, where my elderly grandparents still lived. Two and a half hours from Chicago, nestled among the cornfields, it seemed to us quiet, and safe, and simple.

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