and Daddy, Flower Hospital, Sylvania, Ohio, 1975
continued recuperating at home in Ohio. Things weren't
good there. My mother was dying of emphasema, which she only
referred to as asthma. She was the strongest person I've
known, an esteemed teacher of Latin and French who imposed high
standards on both her students and sons. She just wasn't
stronger than Lucky Strikes.
I still have the hammered copper ashtray that I emptied every
morning as a boy. In it were stubs of cigarettes with her lipstick
stains on them.
My dad lived alone when Mother was in the hospital, and after
she died in 1981 he didn't move or remarry. He wasn't unhappy
living alone so one time in the darkroom - where you could say
such things - I asked him "When was the happiest time of
your life?" After a silence he said "When your Mother
and I were courting."