Day’s end, and what a day it has been. Mom and Dad are in bed, and I’m back in my boyhood bedroom feeling time warped and badly torn between feelings of exhilaration and grief. I’ve got to somehow capture this incredible and tumultuous day.

Amtrak’s Acela Express pulled into Philly’s Thirtieth Street station at 12:05, five long hours after my Boston departure. Wanting to stretch my legs, I hiked the short thirteen blocks east along Market, crossing the majestic Schuylkill River—the Manayunk, as I insisted it be called in my boyhood Indian phase—to my first appointment of the day.

Dad had arranged for me to plunge right in with a lunch meeting at the famous Pyramid Club, high atop my hometown’s new, art deco skyline. When I walked ...

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