Goodbye to All That

An old man dying and a little girl kissing his hand

My father John, a carpenter and cabinetmaker and railway mail clerk, is taking his leave of this world in a bedroom that was mine when I was 18. I lay where he is lying now, in the northeast corner of the room, and looked out the window at night to a red blinking light on a distant water tower and imagined living in New York City and other grand things, and now at 87 he lies in the bed and imagines the risen Christ meeting him with open arms, as in the hymns that his morning nurse Ramona sings to him.

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