My Mother's First Climax
As a medley of painful life transitions builds to a crescendo, my eighty-seven-year-old father seizes the chance to open up about one particularly personal marital moment.
Illustration by Michael Parkin
I am lying on my back on an industrial khaki carpet with a semi-automatic screwdriver in my hand, assembling a six-paneled IKEA desk frame for my father, who has just landed in a new retirement community.
At eighty-seven, my father still marvels at my ability to wield a wrench. “Wow, I had no idea you were so good with tools,” he says, donning the gracious air reserved for those who grew up overseas before the 1950s. “Just terrific,” he says shaking his head, while my brother hands me tiny plastic and silver prefab bits from the floor. The four-hour Swedish construction meditation tests our spirit, as well as my fifty-one-year-old bone density.
After nineteen years in the Golden Gateway apartments in downtown San Francisco, my father moved into Grand Lake Gardens, a nice retirement community in Oakland. Everyone here asks him, “Why did you move from San Francisco?” As if making the fifteen-minute drive across the bridge was too bold a course for an octogena…