Week 4 Discussion1
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From your course textbook, Ticket to Write, read the following chapter:
- “The Death of My Father,” by Steve Martin (Open attachment for this article)
A narrative essay relates a story in order to convey meaning or significance. In “The Death of My Father,” the author concludes by saying, “My father’s death has a thousand endings. I continue to absorb its messages and meanings.”
- What is one significant message or meaning that you would like to point out from this essay?
- Explain why that one stood out for you.
- How effective was this essay?
- What about the writing worked or didn’t work?
Point out the best sentence in the narrative and explain why you chose that one.
In-Text Citation Example
I have experienced the loss of several family members this year, and the final statement in Martin’s (2013) essay echoes how I felt each time someone died: “Nobody should have to die alone” (p. 630).
Martin, S. (2013). The death of my father. In S. S. Thurman, & W. L. Gary, Jr. (Eds.), Ticket to write: Writing skills for success. [Vital Source Bookshelf] (pp. 628-631). Retrieved from myeclassonline.com
Week 4 Discussion1
The Death of My Father by Steve Martin In this essay, comedian and actor Steve Martin discusses what he has learned from moments in his father’s life and from his father’s last days. 1In his death, my father, Glenn Vernon Martin, did something he could not do in life. He brought our family together. 2After he died at age 83, many of his friends told me how much they loved him—how generous he was, how outgoing, how funny, how caring. I was surprised at these descriptions. During my teenage years, there was little said to me that was not criticism. I remember him as angry. But now, ten years after his death, I recall events that seem to contradict my memory of him. When I was 16, he handed down to me the family’s 1957 Chevy. Neither one of us knew at the time that it was the coolest car anyone my age could have. When I was in the third grade he proudly accompanied me to the school tumbling contest where I won first prize. One day, while I was in single digits, he suggested we play catch in the front yard. This offer to spend time together was so anomalousthat I didn’t quite understand what I was supposed to do. anomalous unusual, inconsistent 3When I graduated from high school, my father offered to buy me a tuxedo. I refused because my father always shunned gifts. I felt with my refusal, that somehow in a convoluted, perverse logic, I was being a good son. I wish now that I could have let him buy me a tuxedo, let him be a dad. convoluted difficult, hard to understand 4My father sold real estate but he wanted to be in show business. I was probably five years old when I saw him in a bit part at the Callboard Theater on Melrose Place in Hollywood. He came on in the second act and served a drink. The theater existed until a few years ago and is now finally defunct and, I believe, a lamp shop. Callboard Theater a once-popular theater for up-and-coming actors in Hollywood Melrose Place a section of Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, California, that is home to antique shops, boutiques, and salons defunct no longer in existence 5My father’s attitude toward my show business accomplishments was critical. After my first appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1976, he wrote a bad review of me in the newsletter of the Newport Board of Realtors where he was president. Later, he related this news to me slightly shamefaced, and said that after it appeared, his best friend came into his office holding the paper, placed it on his desk, and shook his head sternly, indicating a wordless “no.” Saturday Night Live a weekly television comedy sketch and variety show that began in 1975 6In the early ’80s, a close friend of mine, whose own father was killed walking across a street and whose mother committed suicide on Mother’s Day, said that if I had anything to work out with my parents, I should do it now, because one day that opportunity would be over. When I heard this remark, I had no idea that I would ever want to work anything out with them, that, in fact, there was anything to work out at all. But it stewed in my brain for years, and soon I decided to try and get to know my parents. I took them to lunch every Sunday I could, and would goad them into talking. goad provoke, stimulate 7It was our routine that after I drove them home from our lunches, my mother and father, now in their 80s, would walk me to the car. I would kiss my mother on the cheek and my father and I would wave or awkwardly say goodbye. But this time we hugged each other and he whispered, “I love you,” with a voice barely audible. This would be the first time these words were ever spoken between us. I returned the phrase with the same awkward, broken delivery. 8As my father ailed, he grew more irritable. He made unreasonable demands, such as waking his 24-hour help and insisting that they take him for drives at three a.m., as it was the only way he could relax. He also became heartrendingly emotional. He could be in the middle of a story and begin to laugh, which would provoke sudden tears, making him unable to continue. heartrendingly causing extreme sadness or grief in others 9In his early 80s, my father’s health declined further and he became bedridden. There must be an instinct about when the end is near, as we all found ourselves gathered at my parents’ home in Orange County, California. I walked into the house they had lived in for 35 years and my weeping sister said, “He’s saying goodbye to everyone.” 10A hospice nurse said to me, “This is when it all happens.” I didn’t know what she meant, but soon I did. hospice a type of medical care that focuses on making terminally ill patients emotionally and physically comfortable 11I walked into the bedroom where he lay, his mind alert but his body failing. He said, almost buoyantly, “I’m ready now.” I understood that his intensifying rage of the last few years had been against death and now his resistance was abating. I stood at the end of the bed and we looked into each other’s eyes for a long, unbroken time. At last he said, “You did everything I wanted to do.” buoyantly cheerfully abating gradually lessening, fading 12I said the truth: “I did it for you.” 13Looking back, I’m sure that we both had different interpretations of what I meant. 14I sat on the edge of the bed and another silence fell over us. Then he said, “I wish I could cry, I wish I could cry.” 15At first, I took this as a comment on his condition but am forever thankful that I pushed on. “What do you want to cry about?” I finally said. 16“For all the love I received and couldn’t return.” 17He had kept this secret, his desire to love his family, from me and from mymother his whole life. It was as though an early misstep had kept us forever out of stride. Now, two days from his death, our pace was aligning and we were able to speak. out of stride not in pace together, having unmatched steps aligning bringing into line, cooperating 18My father’s death has a thousand endings. I continue to absorb its messages and meanings. He stripped death of its spooky morbidity and made it tangibleand passionate. He prepared me in some way for my own death. He showed me the responsibility of the living to the dying. But the most enduring thought was expressed by my sister, Melinda. She told me she had learned something from all this. I asked her what it was. She said, “Nobody should have to die alone.” morbidity unhealthy gloominess or sadness tangible capable of being understood, real, touchable
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