The thing is to get up in the morning, shower for three minutes,
double-edge shave, throw on some clothes,
flip on the radio, go to the kitchen, nuke the McCann’s Quick
Cooking Oatmeal mix for ninety seconds, slice three prunes
and a banana (plop same in cereal), microwave a mug
of decaffeinated green tea, pour out a glass of apricot
juice, pull up the dining-room window shade,
eat breakfast, plan my day.
Dad was never the same after being forced to retire in 1977
at age sixty-three. Travel, OTB, playing the stock market, viewing Jeopardy—
not the same as being chairman of the board of a major corporation: less pay, less perqs, less I’m smart and running the place better than anyone else can.
Mom tried to buck him up: compliments, having company over,
not napping in the passenger seat on rides from New
York to Florida, seeing TV together. All bupkis.
Thirty years of putzing and pouting then Parkinson’s did him in.
Because he was a veteran, mom was able to get an army
color guard at his funeral. When the service was over they
gave her our nation’s flag. My country tis of thee, Depressed retiree,
Of thee we sing.
Michelangelo painted frescoes at the Vatican chapel at age
eighty-nine. Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals when he was
seventy-eight. The Delany sisters wrote a book titled Having Our Say:
The Delany Sisters’ First Hundred Years. My father never read it.