As Though Death Were a Bouquet

It’s too soon to tell. I don’t mean it’s too early to forecast the end. The end has been announcing itself for years. One might suppose I’d have figured out the art of information by now, but here I am, thinking it’s too soon to tell, because telling is the difficulty, and the reality of what’s happening is no work of my own. Still, I think I can save myself from her, my daughter, if the words come out bearing the brunt of it. Or at least I’ll take what cover I can. What is it to be disdained by your one child? It is to be me.

Last year I bought her a vacation at a very nice villa in the South of France. “Are you trying to get rid of me,” she asked, “even more?”

“It’s not as though we live in the same state,” I said.

She told me, “Exactly.”

I have had to get my own psychologist to deal with my daughter’s neuroses.

The other thing I do is polish the silverware. I trust the cleaning lady, but there are some things a man must do himself, and these include protecting legacy. My wife’s family has been passing on this set for eight generations, one of which elapsed during the length of our marriage. Hence the grown-up daughter. So I get out the nitrile gloves—rubber corrodes, if you can believe that—and get to work. I don’t stop until I can see myself in knives owned by the Jacob Adamses up through the John Michael Adamses and now me. I try not to look at the telephone, hope my daughter doesn’t call. Why this had to happen on a Saturday, I don’t know. The timing has left me vulnerable, that is, available, in a way that the weekdays don’t.

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