(another small story: after the war. We were in L A, I had been working in a tool and die jobbing shop, then started building tailor-made radios — phonographs, and then with a partner building houses Message that my father (in S F) was dying. Hypochondriac family; my father less ill than that, the meeting in his hospital room as equivocal, as difficult, as dangerous to me as all our meetings – - The nurse came into the room and asked me to wait outside a moment. I walked down the hall to a little waiting room and sat down. The floor-nurse on duty recognized me (I look like my father) She said, I guess what a man cares most about in his life is his son. I was startled, I was absolutely startled and absolutely unprepared. My father’s temperature was running fairly high, I realized that he must have talked of me. My face must have shown how startled and how unprepared I was. The nurse saw it, and she began to cry God help us all.
"... absolutely startled and absolutely unprepared." And so I was, and continue to be, with regard to my own father's passing. Oppen always did hit on just the right words.