. . . Reflections on Humanity, Mortality, and Small, Plastic Food-Storage Containers

My father is dying. He is elderly and is dying gently. I live in his house, along with my two sons, whom I raise by myself.

By gently I do not mean quietly. My father has gotten very loud in his leaving. He curses a great deal (a pursuit he has taken up with so much vigor and clear pleasure I don’t know why he didn’t take it up long before) and sings loudly (anything from gospels to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) and he talks almost constantly to God—exhortations, complaints, gratitude. My niece was looking after my sons one day and they were yelling at the computer game at one end of the house while my father shouted in the kitchen. She is an only child and was raised quietly. When I got home, she said there were a few minutes there she was pretty sure she was going to lose her mind—the coming and the going so noisy.

I’m not a giver, and when I have time to wonder, I wonder how I ended up in this situation. Everyone in my family has trouble with connections. My ex-husband and my brother will both tell you I’m cranky and self-centered and pushy. These aren’t generally recognized as the primary qualities of a caregiver. I’m menopausal too and here to tell you that herbal concoctions are no cure.

[Continued in Confrontation 111]