Found object, somewhere in the mess of our house. It’s a slide of my father in Europe, on vacation with either my mother or my uncle. Look and you’ll see an idyllic village, my father gazing on admiringly, self consciously. He had grown up poor in working class England, and so, I imagine, felt good about achieving middle class status.
I remember one of the many many trips we took to the emergency department the last 5 years of his life, in fact about a month before he died. Because my father’s curvature of the spine had worsened as his Parkinson’s progressed, his rigid body on the gurney left his head to be pulled by gravity at a terribly awkward angle, pulling his tongue way back into his throat and making it difficult for him to breathe without saliva going into his trachea. This aggravated his pneumonia – why we were there – and caused him to cough, something he could only do with a great deal of conscious effort.
To the overworked, downtown emergency duty nurse, overwhelmed because there were too many people in here with too much need, and not enough money to get the resources to cover even the basics – how can I say to her, so that she will hear, that my father needs a pillow?