Death in America
DEATH HAS been in my family for generations. My mother–she is eighty- six years old now with a cataract on one eye and she has made friends with the Salvation Army, they have an academy right across the street from her apartment in the West Bronx-my mother knows all about it, all the stories how death came in Russia to my grandfathers and my great-uncles and my great-grandfathers and my great-greats. She told me most of them when I was a little boy and she was nursing me through a mysterious childhood disease-she calls it a gripped gut-and I can remember those stories going down with the spoonfuls of cream of wheat she fed me.
To the men he comes. The women in the family die, so to speak, without death. I suppose I can say that I’ve seen him come with my own eyes, once to my Uncle Morton the house-painter and once to my father. He came once to me also, the time the gut got so gripped that I went into a convulsion and was unconscious for thirty-six hours. That was also the time they put me in a mustard bath, but the water was too hot and they burned my feet. I can’t remember him coming to me, of course. All I can remember is how nice and smooth the new skin was when my feet healed.
About the Author