For some they are probably handsome young men smiling widely, as in some bright photographed moment once long ago; for others, tough, demanding women uncompromising in the rigor of their wishes; and others, solid, manly girls who go sweet, soft in the seclusions of an embrace; and still for others, perhaps, a no-longer doddering mix of mothers all looking alike, grown young again and more lovely than all the other women whose arms ever held their sons. “‘Carl, Carl,’ they called,” my father said describing his having nearly died. “They were burlesque girls, looked like Sally Rand, but without her fans. I could see right through their gowns, could see it all because the light was so bright, and they were drifting all around me calling but couldn’t see me. ‘Carl, Carl.’ ‘I’m right here,’ I said. But they couldn’t see me.” And when my mother ran to the door screaming that he was turning blue, an orderly picked up a 200 pound oxygen tank and ran down the hall with it, and soon Daddy was back in his bed. This was in 1950, and I was three. But I heard the story often— years before the slick God-hucksters started packaging those ladies and their light, turning that one last comforting fling before the brain shuts down for good— or thinks it’s shutting down—a final orgasmic flash in the face of extinction and decay, one more moment with the angels of our bliss—turning a last rapture’s gold and glowing grace, life’s final affirmation, worthless, turning it into the nightmare of perpetuation and monotony, worse even than that shackled stupor of old Eden…unless, unless all memory of sense and touch, that thrill of flesh, was erased in those high, terrible hospitals of heaven where white robes moving with angelic speed and knives bright as the morning star lobotomized away all we’d ever loved.