The older he gets, the more familiar my father becomes with death. Last breaths at hospital bedsides, holding the hand of a neighbor internally hemorrhaging on the curb, waiting with a friend for professionals to remove their spouse from the home and endlessly facing his own mortality is my father’s life.

Every time death happens, my father enters several weeks of death rehearsal. Everything he says is carefully spoken in case it becomes his last words. He moves slowly and deliberately, like a slow motion scene in a movie. The longer the rehearsal, the harder it is for him to cease practicing death and resume living.

Grandaddy: “Remember that I won’t be gone. I will be…”
Me: “In Cades Cove.”
Grandaddy: < -grinning -> “You’re just like your mother.”

As long as I can remember, my Mother has had 95% of her requests to picnic in Cades Cove, or any other wildlife filled park, refused by my father. He prefers eating at a table in a climate controlled room to sitting outside with bugs and perspiration. He would rather eat a deer than take pictures of it. A decade ago, my mother announced that if my father died first, she would be sprinkling my father’s ashes in Cades Cove so that she could finally enjoy the park with him. I promised to help her.

Death is a tragedy. Life is a comedy.

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