Flawless Memory

I’m reposting this because the memories are very strong with me today.

Planet of the Blind


I arrived at the intensive care unit in the early afternoon.

I was shocked to find my mother rising and falling atop a motorized bed with no nurse in sight.


My mother, who resembled Elizabeth Taylor, even as they both aged and who was now unconscious, or partially conscious; terrified, or without a claim to dignity—with her tracheotomy, her heart monitor, I.V. drips, with a macerated open chest cavity, my mother was being tortured to death in the Portsmouth, New Hampshire hospital on an ordinary day in September. Outside you could see the beginning of autumn foliage.


What to do? Stay calm of course. Despite the bungled surgery and the failures of post-operative care you need the nurses on your side. Everybody who has ever been in a hospital knows you need the nurses on your side. Don’t yell at the nurses. Don’t spit in the soup.

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