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Letters to the editor of the Globe Magazine

After a longtime Globe writer reflects on his life as it nears the end, the response from readers is overwhelming.

Jack Thomas’s Final Chapters

Jack Thomas’s essay (“Reflections of a Newspaperman,” July 25) moved me beyond words—perhaps not the best metaphor [in praise of] someone who has spent his lifetime penning them on a page. His insights strike just the right balance between levity and profundity. Thomas has given all readers food for thought. Julia Child would approve!

Mary Alice Van Sickle, Cambridge

A colleague who knew that my mother has terminal brain cancer forwarded me this article. To be sure, it resonated. I often wonder whether it would be better to know that I have a finite time to live, or succumb to a sudden and unexpected death. After reflecting on Thomas’s article, I’m hoping for the latter scenario. I simply don’t think I could die with the grace and humility that define him. May he have fair winds and following seas for the rest of his journey.


Scott Peterson, Hingham

I just read Thomas’s piece about the shortness and richness of life. He mentioned wasting it on trivia, but in fact it’s the trivia that makes the life. All those tiny details he mentions, those are the individual stitches in his tapestry. None are wasted, whether they went somewhere or trailed off in dwindling hope. I will miss him, as his particular thread reaches its end. But now he is a stitch on my tapestry.

Cynthia Frederick, Cerrillos, New Mexico

I’m a Torontonian who loves the Red Sox and subscribes to the Globe online, mostly to read that coverage. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything as lovely and meaningful as Thomas’s piece. I only hope when it’s my turn, I can write something half as good. Godspeed, Jack.

Steve Paikin, Toronto, Ontario

I remember the article Thomas wrote about my father, which I really appreciated. Knowing the time frame of your own death does give you time to prepare, however you do that. One’s perspective changes when time is limited. I hope his journey is as peaceful as it can be. I’m so glad for his wonderful, rich life.


Betsy Emerson, Richmond, Vermont

What a beautiful, brave and graceful study on life...and a reminder that love is our greatest accomplishment and our greatest legacy.

Janet Wu, Boston

I live in Mississippi and the only reason I have a subscription to The Boston Globe is so that I can follow my hated New England Patriots. Thomas’s article appeared in my inbox today and it was truly moving. I am praying for him and his family. He did a wonderful job describing the little things in life that we take for granted. It inspired me to pay more attention to them. The part about his father made me think about my own dad. He is almost 72 and I couldn’t imagine life without him. I hope Thomas will get to see his dad again.

Shaun Yurtkuran, Jackson, Mississippi

Jack interviewed me when my first novel came out 25 years ago. We had lunch together at the Casablanca in Harvard Square. I remember laughing so hard I could barely eat. What a storyteller, what a wit, what a thoroughly nice guy. How lucky I feel to have spent those couple of hours in such wonderful company, my ribs sore, my hamburger untouched, my admiration boundless.

Mameve Medwed, Cambridge

I don’t think I’ve read a more moving and beautiful ode to a life of joy and wonder. Yes, I’m sure it was also filled with the everyday moments of frustration and annoying details, but very few of us can capture the happiness we can experience every day if we only take the time. I’m so very sorry that the author won’t have that time but I thank him for allowing us to reflect on what really is important in life.


Denise Paone, Saugus

Thank you to Jack Thomas for writing that painful but gracious letter to your longtime admirers...including me. Thanks, too, for all the great stories over the years—no, the decades! Any time I opened the Globe and saw his byline, that was my first read of the day. He had a wonderful sense of story, along with credibility and style.

John Brady, Newburyport

Once again photo editors, copy editors, pressmen, truck drivers, and JACK THOMAS have delivered an inspirational, tender, and memorable piece of writing. Please accept this thank you from a longtime reader who is sincerely grateful for Thomas’s lifetime of good journalism and shared thoughts. Wishing him and his family as much ease as possible as he moves on to his next assignment.

Betsy Hornik, Cambridge

If you want to know what great writing looks like, read Jack Thomas. If you want to know what great journalism is, watch him. If you want to see what generosity of spirit looks like, follow him. If you want to see the joy of life in action, he’s your man. He will leave more friends than he could possibly count.


Sam Allis, Jamaica Plain

You’ve given us a road map, Jack. May your road still have some twists and turns that keep you here longer than you’ve been told.

newsyoucanuse, posted on

I cannot possibly say anything as eloquent and moving as this piece; I am commenting in order to bear witness, Mr. Thomas, to a life well lived and a piece well written.

Bostonmomof3kids, posted on

I’m a hard-ass who seldom cries, but Thomas’s piece was so heartbreakingly poignant and powerful, it broke me. It also deeply moved and inspired me, and in that, I’m in good company. You’ve been given the gift of reflection and contemplation. And your words—your currency for the entire arc of a distinguished career—are making people across the nation and around the world think about what’s really important. So thanks, Jack. And God bless you. All the best from a fellow hack you never met.

William J. Kole, Warwick, Rhode Island

I was in the Harvard Extension writing class where Jack Thomas wrote the first draft of this essay. I complained to my office mate at work that someone in my class had thrown the gauntlet—”How can anyone compete with that?” Perhaps because I was the next eldest class member, I was impressed but not taken in. At any rate, it stuck with me, and I have often looked around and realized that I, too, feel that way as time is slipping past too quickly. Which is all to say, the afterlife is probably the memories Jack has spread across his readership with his indelible lines.


Jenny Fariborz, Brookline

As I age it becomes harder to watch the shortsightedness of human behavior. Greed and selfishness, intolerance and violence, the destruction of habitats, the extinction of species. Politics, ignorance...Today I read Thomas’s story and wept at the beauty of life. The meaningfulness of his individual life. The purpose of it. Safe journeys, Jack.

Dana Lewis, Portland

So beautiful. My husband just died on Christmas Day, so I would say to Thomas’s wife, do as I did, kiss him every night and tell him you love him, and that he is the most precious thing on earth. Because he is. It will help her, Jack, after you are gone. It does me.

Pamie, posted on

Thanks to Jack Thomas for a piece that made me cry, for how grateful we are to be in such a lovely world. For his fondness of all the beauty and love it holds for him and for us, if we would just open our eyes and see that yellow bird and those lovely roses. He could have recalled all the ugliness and injustice in the world, as many others would, and die bitter. But he has inspired me—and I hope others—to enjoy this wonderful time we have. I hope his daughter finds that miraculous cure, but if not, I look forward to reading his stories on the next adventure of his in that unknown place.

Marlene Kim, Belmont

I am on that same ride and, while not so eloquent as Jack, feel the same rush of emotions and questions. My wife has been the same rock as Jack’s, selflessly being chief cook and bottle washer of everything life currently throws at me. My two children, the light of my life since birth, have put their young lives on hold to be with me. Friends have bent over backward providing food, company, and love even in this age of COVID. While I know that I did not choose cancer, there is a large amount of guilt for all of the lives that I put on hold, but I am so grateful for the love that has been given. I hope that I have the opportunity to meet Jack on the other side, as he will help make the transition eminently easier. On second thought, he already has.

CvillePride, posted on

I was stunned by Thomas’s piece on his reaction to the news of his impending death. How beautifully—and calmly—he wrote out thoughts that are truly terrifying for most of us. He has certainly had an extraordinary life, not only in the sense that he achieved much, but also in the sense that he inhaled every second and recognized the scent of each moment. I have lived with a husband with several cancers for 10 years. He is positive, moving forward; I am terrified every day. I am taking Thomas’s words to heart, with much emotion, even for someone I have never met.

Lisa Keller, New Rochelle, New York

I was in a writing class with Jack and he was kind and generous. He encouraged me and insisted that my writing was important. I loved hearing his stories in class and reading them here and will be forever grateful. When I do finish my book, I hope to honor him as a mentor and friend who kept me from giving up.

BulletproofTherapist, posted on

Whatever may be next, Thomas has illumined this world with grace, beauty, humor, and love, and surely that is an intimation of immortality.

Chip Phinney, Newton

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