Thursday, April 19, 2007

GNSP

Good Night Sweet Prince...



A call came through my cell phone last night around 1 a.m. That late, I figured it could be one of only two things: a) my friend Earl calling from a bar to discuss American Idol or b) a nurse from my father's nursing home calling to tell me he had died.

It was the second.

But don't be Blue, Stephanie. After a bit of sad reflection I've come to recognize this passing, because it is so right for so many reasons, as a cause for celebration.

So hereafter, at least in some circles, April 19th will be forever called Allen Raymond Day.

Me? I got out of bed, drove down to the nursing home and sat next to Dad until the people from the funeral home came to pick him up. Resting on the table next to the bed was perhaps his favorite book---Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The large type version.

I sat close to the bed, in the stillness of the nursing home, just one light on, and read the first chapter as I waited. Some guy named Bingley had apparently rented the big house down the road from the Bennets. Who knew?

Actually, I knew. What a beautiful book.

Like "Call me Ismael," or "It was the best of times...", the beginning of P&P is one of the most famous opening lines in literature. It goes:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
A few days earlier, having checked this very book out of the library, I had read this sentence aloud to my father. It made him smile like a madman.

Me? I once described the writing of P.G.Wodehouse (Dad's and my shared all-time favorite) as what Jane Austen would have written were she dropping acid.

That night I watched about an hour of "The Mask" dubbed into Spanish. This, too, was like dropping acid. I found it very comforting.

Likewise my memory of my father's now-peaceful face as he lay in bed next to me as I read my Jane Austen.

Good Night Sweet Prince.

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