Showing 1241 - 1250 of 1285 annotations tagged with the keyword "Death and Dying"

In the Nursing Home

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A very short poem, describing the increasingly circumscribed life of a dying woman in a nursing home, a woman who "is like a horse grazing / a hill pasture that someone makes / smaller by coming every night / to pull the fences in and in." The final lines are a moving plea for God to bring the woman to a gentle death.

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Eating the Cookies

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker describes cleaning out the house of a friend/relative who has recently died. She rewards each small accomplishment in her sorting through of the dead woman's possessions by eating one cookie from a tin of homemade cookies that was sent by the woman's cousin before she died. As she reaches the end of her cleaning, the speaker takes the last cookie from the tin: "I took it up / and sniffed it, and before eating it, / pressed it against my forehead, because / it seemed like the next thing to do."

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The Last Decision

Angelou, Maya

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Angelou’s four stanza poem is narrated by an elderly person, probably a woman. In each of the stanzas, the proud and forthright speaker dismisses the desire to stay alive. She sizes up her circumstances pragmatically--the inconveniences and disabilities. She can no longer bother with the print that has become "too small," the food that is "too rich," the tiring concerns of her children, and, finally, the weariness of life. Each is addressed in its own stanza, but the concluding refrain is the same; she will give up reading, then eating, then listening--and then life. "Today," she says rather convincingly in her final line, "I’ll give up living."

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The Devil

Maupassant, Guy de

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A young farmer's mother is dying. The farmer, Honore, is concerned about his mother but he is even more concerned about getting his wheat in before the rains come. He is prepared to leave her to die alone, but at the insistence of the doctor agrees to hire Mother Rapet to tend his mother. Mother Rapet is an old washerwoman who supplements her income by watching the dying and preparing them for burial. La Rapet offers to work for Honore for a daily wage. Honore refuses, for he knows how obstinate his mother is and fears she will take a long time to die making La Rapet's services expensive. He insists on a set rate and La Rapet eventually agrees.

After three days, the mother still has not died and La Rapet realizes that she is losing money. Taking matters into her own hands, she tells the dying woman that at the moment before death everyone sees the devil. She then wraps herself in a blanket, puts a pot on her head, and throws a pail across the room making a huge noise. The dying woman thinks she is the devil and struggles to leap out of bed; instead, she collapses on the floor, dead.

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The Law of Life

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Old Koskoosh was the chief of an Eskimo tribe. Now he is blind and lame, and his tribe is preparing to leave him alone in the snow to face his death as they travel on without him. His son leaves him a pile of sticks to feed the fire beside him. When the fire dies, so will he. As he waits alone for death, he thinks of the time he left his own father in the snow. He also remembers having seen a sick, old moose killed by wolves when it straggled behind the rest of the herd. "It was the law of all life," he decides. When he feels the cold nose of a wolf on him and hears the pack's footsteps surround him, he first fights them off, then gives in.

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Dr. Rapallo

Menick, Stephen

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

The story begins with Dr. Frank Rapallo's son recalling his father's funeral and then progresses with a series of vignettes that show us who Dr. Rapallo was and how he died. Rapallo was an old time doctor who loved his work and whose patients told him "everything."

The boy was only seven when his father had radiation treatment for a cancer of his shoulder; subsequently, he had surgery to try to save the arm, but this left a hole "big enough to fit my hand." The hole never healed. He lost the arm anyway, but continued to perform operations with the assistance of Matthew, his young Japanese partner. The son reflects on his father's experiences in World War II--he was profoundly moved by the destruction in Japan and by the courage of Japanese physicians.

A strong, dedicated doctor, Rapallo was painstakingly honest, both with his patients and himself. In the end, he developed an incurable infection in his incurable wound. With characteristic dignity, Dr. Rapallo set about doing his last things--seeing patients for a few hours, visiting with his old friend Finch--and then in the evening took the contents of the vial he had prepared, and died.

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Alive

Appleman, Philip

Last Updated: Oct-09-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Uncle Jimmie is slowly dying of cancer, "the rat that gnawed away behind his ears." Jimmie believes that cancer is part of nature and must, at some level, be accepted. At first he permits surgery--they removed his ear and cheek and upper lip--but he eventually concludes, "Stop cutting . . . let / me go to earth and snow and silver trees." However, Aunt Flo will not let him go; she reads St. Paul and prays for his recovery.

Next the surgeons remove Uncle Jimmie’s tongue (without his consent?), but his eyes "kept pleading: Stop the cutting, let me go . . . ." So then they removed his eyes. Finally, "a specialist / trimmed away one quarter of his brain ... " Jimmie is left with no memory, lying in bed among his tubes, while Auntie Flo "comes every day / to read to bandages the Word Made Flesh, / and pray, and pay the bills . . . . "

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Poison

Coulehan, Jack

Last Updated: Aug-21-1996
Annotated by:
Donley, Carol

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator of this poem is the father who is dying. He takes all kinds of pills in different colors which he identifies, perhaps correctly, as poisons. He knows he is dying and so does his son, who brings him his medicine and "sees poison in my eyes." The last few lines are especially touching: "He wants to take my hand, but he's / afraid. That's two of us. / For heart I take a white one once."

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Coats

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Aug-13-1996
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

This short (10 line) poem presents a simple scene. A man leaves the hospital, carrying a woman's coat. "Clearly she would not need it." The weather is mild for December, but the man has zipped his coat, "preparing / for irremediable cold."

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night sound

Clifton, Lucille

Last Updated: Aug-13-1996
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A woman who has already lived out more than half of her life lies next to her man, listening to the night sounds of their own breathing, and has intimations of mortality. She thinks of her own mother, who was already dead at this age, and feels she must conserve her very breath. The sexual energy and "soft expensive murmurings" she spends on her lover may cost her--and yet he is oblivious, sleeping "as if there could be even now / no question of tomorrow."

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