The Quiet Light

I sat by my father’s bed.

If there was one place in the house I was often sitting, it was there, next to him. Holding his hand, reading to him, listening to him reminisce about how still, after all these years, he hated his mother, or that he loved his grandmother, or that the light was fading.


There were two paintings I hung on the wall of Dad’s art studio a few months after he died, which stayed there until I had to move the last of his things to make way for a new tenant. One was a small self-portrait he had painted in the early ‘90’s. In it, Dad wears an imperious expression, almost a scowl, a man with a serious chip on his shoulder. His beard is tightly clipped, his glasses too big for his face. This was a man unwilling to take shit from anybody, and he would cock his eyebrow until you knew it....

II. Where There's a Will

Apparently the urology department had Dad’s prostate cancer medication under control (namely, a shot in the pooper full of girly hormones) because it was six weeks before we ended up in a cancer specialist’s office.

III. Family Circus

It fell to me to be Queen of Dad by proximity; Chris lived close enough to visit Dad but far enough for it to be unreasonable to ask him to make Dad’s health decisions on his behalf. In fairness to both, they wished that we could divide all joys and burdens equally between us, including, I imagine, Dad’s health care.

IX: The Photograph

In the beginning of Dad’s cancer adventure, it would have never occurred to me to take a picture of him. Not that photos are either bad or good—they are a medium onto which one person’s perception is recorded—but they are by their nature revealing.