Goodbye


Each of Us Owes the Universe a Death

July/August 2011


When my mother screamed into the phone for me to get over there, “Daddy’s dead,” a long waiting period ended. My father’s failing health over several years had left him almost helpless; he had demanded and received from my mother as much care and supervision as an infant.

At their apartment lay my father—the inert body of my father—on the carpet which he had, in his first posthumous act, soiled. A few hours earlier, sitting listlessly in front of the television set on a late Sunday afternoon, he had stirred into half-marvelled consciousness as an instant replay showed Jack Nicklaus sinking an impossible putt. Later, after a snack, as my mother cleaned the dishes, he fell off his chair and died. Hearing the thud, she ran in from the kitchen to discover his body on the floor. Now, before me, he was no longer an animate object. Motionless, LIFE-LESS, he, it, lay there, an unwanted piece of furniture soon to be carted away by special movers.

We waited for my brother and his family. The police and funeral parlor people arrived. They performed their jobs with a mechanical concern more irritating than indifference. We wanted more, to have something explained, transformed, restored. But they did not give us more. They couldn’t.

My father was dead, and for me that meant, on the most profound level, that his ability to speak, to smile, even to blink, all those magical talents were gone. No matter how rigid and stiff, how dead I’d thought his personality…

Already have an account linked to your magazine subscription? Log in now to continue reading this article.

(Need help? Click here or contact us to ask a question.)

Not currently a subscriber? Subscribe Today to read the rest of this article!




Read 99368 times
Comments - (existing users please login first)
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *
E-mail Address *
Website URL
Message *
2 Comments

Sunday, February 26, 2012 7:35:05 PM | posted by Christine Smith
After my mother died in an auto accident at the young age of 52 I had no words to describe the event. Just "this sucks" was all I could summarize.
Thank you Fred for the words I was lacking. It has been almost 15 years since her death. I could relate, accept and enjoy your transformation from a safe distance. Well done!

Saturday, August 4, 2012 6:33:56 AM | posted by look up phone number
This design is wicked! You most certainly know how to keep a reader amused.
Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog well,
almostHaHa! Great job. I really loved what you had
to say, plus much more than that, how you presented it.
Too cool!

livechat