Thursday, August 30, 2012

the last book I ever read (Buzz Bissinger's Father's Day, excerpt seven)

from Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger:

The Hearst Castle was a maze of narrow stairways. The physical exertion was becoming difficult for my mother. There was an elevator, but she refused to take it, just as she refused her usual impulse to stay in her hotel room and take to her bed. She wore her Gloria Vanderbilt hat. She spent hours applying makeup. In watching her navigate those narrow steps with both hands on the lifelines of the guardrails, you could see the fight still within her.

On the trip back to Los Angeles from San Simeon, she rode in a car with Lisa and my sister and niece. She regaled them with her wit and trenchant observations of others and word games and songs from Broadway musicals. All the best of her was on display in that car.

The day before my parents left, we went to Universal Studios. We insisted to my mother that she stay behind to get some rest. She refused again. As we were about to get on the Back to the Future ride, she announced that she wanted to join us. She was adamant. She said it looked like fun. We believed her because we so wanted to believe her.

Midway through the ride, she began to panic. “Get me the hell out of here!” she grimaced. There was nothing we could do. My sister held her hand and coaxed her the rest of the way. My father asked her how it had been. “Awful,” she spat out. It became clear that she had no idea why she was on the ride, and where exactly she was.

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