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June 19, 2007


Today I visited an elderly man who may, or may not, be on his last bed. There in the hospital in a chair next to him his wife was wrapped in a hospital blanket so that I thought she may have been admitted, too. What is that called in child-birth? There is a French name for it. The man was perfectly alert while receiving his second transfusion, and he was wondering what he had done wrong (to the dismay of both myself and his wife). I reminded him that, like everything else, parts tend to wear out with age, that's all. Anyway, being in this frame of mind, I want to know about the refrigerator and, of course, more bio on C.

Another fascinating piece on your father-in-law, with his cranky tired side revealed along with the moments of pleasure over the soup and the cake, and always his storytelling recallong fond memories which make him happy. What a 98 year old! Thank you, Beth.


How beautifully you describe it. I could see and hear it all. What brought tears to my eyes was not his frailty and fading faculties, but the remembrance of his childhood friend. Memories of love are all there are by the end, I guess. Thank you for sharing this, Beth. Such occasions must be bitter-sweet for J and you.


Thanks for adding that story to mine, Scott...I hope (and am pretty confident) that you were able to assure the man that he hadn't done anything wrong. What a sad thing it is, the way so many people feel sickness and death must be a punishment for something! If religion created that guilt, maybe it can work now to take it away. I hope he gets better so he can work on that notion a little more!! Thanks Marja-Leena, rr, Jean and Pica, for knowing this is indeed a bittersweet time - it's also always amusing and a privilege to be involved with someone like this! It makes me contemplate what my own old age might be like, too, which is both sobering and good, I think, to think about while we're young enough to see clearly what character traits help, and which ones don't.


Thanks Beth!

I love this post, Beth, as I love all your stories of your beau-père (vraiment un beau père!) He reminds me a bit of how my father was in his last years (died aged 101), the way he didn't give a damn what anyone thought of him, and how he responded to gifts and food.

Please give my best wishes to him, even if we don't know each other, I feel connected.

Thanks, Sylph and Fred! Natalie, I'm glad you had all those years with your father and that he grew into a person who was entirely himself - my grandmother did the same; she died at 92. I will try to figure out how to explain to mon beau-père that you and many other people he's never met care about him...it will be one more confusing thing for him about that very strange thing, "the internet."

Wow. 98 - that's amazing.

Amazing indeed. I'm always grateful for these father-in-law posts; may there be many more!

I loved reading this. It was almost like meeting your father-in-law. You write it with humour, love, respect.

Leslee, LH, thanks. Lots of years, many fewer posts, but still quite a lot!

That's an idea - I wonder if I could eventually compile 100 sections?

Tall Girl, thanks so much for reading and for your comment! There are a number of other father-in-law posts in the archive, all of which will eventually be collected under the title "The Fig and the Orchid." There's a start to that if you click the link by that name at the near-bottom of the sidebar.

A wonderful account, Beth, & strangely moving throughout in its simple depiction of a man wearing his years with such dignity. May we all be so fortunate.

Thanks, Dick. You are right -- I hope for that good fortune too.

"The very old are crafty and clear-eyed; nothing fazes them."


You have set high standards for practical manifestation of humanity...

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.