Friday, April 29, 2016

the last book I ever read (Kim Gordon's Girl in a Band: A Memoir, excerpt two)

from Girl in a Band: A Memoir by Kim Gordon:

Jackie still lives in Malibu. Her husband, Bill, is dead. Maxie and her son, Mike, still live in Santa Cruz, but most of the others, including my parents, are gone. In the late 1980s, a short while after my dad stopped working, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. His basic neurological functions began to leave him, one after another. At some point, my mom really wasn’t able to take care of him by herself, and she made it clear he’d be better off—in fact, it was his job and his responsibility to do so, she told him—if he went into a nursing home, which he did. My mom was tough and pragmatic, though in fairness to her, she didn’t have the money to pay for the twenty-four-hour nursing staff his condition required.

It wasn’t the Parkinson’s that killed him. It was the nursing home, where he contracted pneumonia, and then the hospital. A nurse, an old-timer who should have known better, inserted a feeding tube down the wrong pipe. But my family never sued the hospital, as by that point my dad’s Parkinson’s was so advanced it had taken away most of the person we all remembered anyway. In the year before he died, I remember how he never complained. I’m sure he missed doing things like cooking, and tending to his tomatoes, and playing with his custom-made smokers. I missed the father who’d given me a book of Emily Dickinson poems, sweetly inscribed, for my sixteenth birthday, even though I found Dickinson corny. I missed the man who took me to lunch at the UCLA faculty center, introducing me proudly to the people he worked with, making me so happy in return that he was my dad. During his last year I mostly remember his docility, his sweetness, his acceptance of what was ahead.

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