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.


This is a fine story that sketches a man's character through a series of episodes in his personal and professional life. Through his son's eyes, we come to know Dr. Rapallo and, thereby, see the "truth" of his suicide: he will die with dignity. The story could serve as an excellent adjunct to a discussion of professional values and assisted suicide.


Address of the journal, Press: Suite 323, 2124 Broadway, New York, NY 10023.

Primary Source

Press: A Jounal of Poetry and Fiction


Daniel Roberts

Place Published

New York


Issue 1, Summer 1996