My father died shortly before midnight on Thursday. His heart was so worn out. A few hours before, he had been packing up books to send out for delivery. After that, my brother heard him praying, and decided to check on him later, not wanting to interrupt. Then my father lay down in his recliner, and then that was it. Or maybe I’ve gotten the details wrong. It’s been a long day. We are glad he didn’t have to die in a hospital, hooked up to the beeping machines he hated so much.
I used to call him on Wednesday evenings. Most of the time, I would say, “Hey, it’s Simmy.” He would say, “Hey, Sim. How’s it going?” and I would say, “Oh, fine. Are you in the middle of anything?” and he would say, “Nahhh, I’m just listening to some music.” The same conversation almost every time, but always different music.
The time before last when I called, it was Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy he was listening to. He had gotten his hands on a huge collection of LPs, and was listing them for sale one by one in his online store. For each record, he had to visually inspect it, and then listen to a few samples of both sides, to make sure it was playable. Then he could list them. But when he sampled the Bach, he didn’t pick the needle up, but let it play.
We talked about Bach for a while, how he was a god. My father used to play that fantasy himself, at a snail’s pace, the pace of an amateur, amateur, “one who loves.” I do remember hearing him play parts of it, the halting notes filtering up through the wooden floorboards as we fell asleep. I imagined parts of it were corduroy, parts were wood, parts were curling gold. I told him he should keep the record for himself. He protested that it was a rare recording, and worth a considerable amount of money. But keep it! I insisted. Well, he said, maybe he would.
Last time I called, the day before he died, he sounded worn out. He didn’t have much banter in him, and he didn’t want to talk much about the kids, which was unusual. He had seen my mother at the nursing home twice this week. Because of the virus, he couldn’t be in a room with her or feed her jellybeans every day like he used to, but the aides bundled her up and wheeled her onto the patio, and he talked to her six feet away, through a chain link fence. He said that he told her he loved her, and that she said “I love you” back to him, and that made him happy. He told me he loved everybody, and told me to send his love to everybody. I told him I loved him. He said he loved me, too. And then that was it. I still can’t believe that was it.
I looked for the Bach record online, and I can’t find it listed. I hope that’s because he decided to keep it, and I hope he listened one more time.