Mother and Daddy, Flower Hospital, Sylvania, Ohio, 1975

I 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."


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