There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The phone rang at 5:15 a.m.

Nothing good makes a phone ring at that hour.

"Your father is being rushed to ICU. He is unconscious. He has a breathing tube and a DNR. I'm bringing the DNR up there now. I can't reach Scott or Andy. I have to go now."

The call wasn't exactly a surprise. The raw emotion of my stepmother's voice was. I wanted to reach out and help, but the phone was no help in bridging the distance between my bed and a hospital in Melbourne, Florida.

A half-hour later, my brother was on the phone offering to pay my way out to Florida. I took his offer. I packed and the wife took me to the train. I'll be getting off at Richmond to ride BART to the San Francisco Airport. I'll meet my brother there, and we'll fly together to Orlando, where he's got a car waiting.

We're not a particularly close family. I seldom talk to my brother. I talk to my half-brother even less often. I've made an effort, however, to call my father once a week. My father has been in decline for several weeks. He was hospitalized for pneumonia several days ago. His last words to me were, "Don't call again. It's too much bother."

It's rather fitting to the broader context of our relationship.

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