My father had a heart attack on a treadmill. He retired two weeks earlier. He lived to work. I lived a life of leisure waiting tables and drinking. I pulled up to the house I shared with friends and my sister was in my front yard crying. She didn’t have to say anything. For a week we sat at the hospital, each in a different state of denial. I felt his finger move that time. I was too old to be waiting tables without a wife or a home of my own. My life was a failure. Deep shame. I would talk to his co-workers or relatives and see the look in their faces as I told them what I did—or rather, what I didn’t do. Eventually it hit me. The shame and anguish of my life burst open as I realized that my father was already dead–he was a shell being kept alive by a machine. Shortly thereafter he was pronounced dead. My mother, sister, and I ate at a cafeteria and had an upbeat conversation and laughed. It wasn’t funny but that is what people do sometimes in the face of tragedy—they laugh. Life wasn’t funny for a long time after that. But, like anything, it eventually got better. I don’t think about it now, his ashen face, his blue lips—the nothingness. Only periodically, when I work too much, does it come to my mind, I think about being sprawled out on the floor of a gym with strangers standing over me pumping my chest wildly, breathing in my mouth. Feeling the life slowly move out of my body. Sometimes the irony of life is perplexing.

Jasper Kerkau

Author: Sudden Denouement

A Global Literary Collective

40 thoughts on “Father”

  1. I know how you feel. I was there when my father passed and watch the life slowly slip while machines kept his lungs breathing. It sucks. I remember telling him before he passed, “Thank you for making my life easier when your life was hard” Even typing that now, brings me a tear or makes me emotional.


  2. A short yet powerful piece that will resonate with anyone over a certain age. (Like me…)
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    I like the name of your blog, and anyone using a photo of Louise Brooks gets 100% approval from me!
    Best wishes, Pete.


  3. Beautifully written. This entire piece brings about a sense of numbness which is so hard to create with so many words. And I agree with a previous comment, it is a haunting piece that makes the reader contemplate current relationships, which is what makes this so effective.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This post has a haunting effect. One can draw on the similarities of situations and emotions.At the same time reflect on life and relationships.Further more on the reality of the gnawing mortality which stares at us.

    Liked by 3 people

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