Nonfiction | March 01, 1997

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My father died under the surgeon’s knife on the morning of June 12, 1957, one day short of his forty-seventh birthday.  He had been obviously and continuously ill for three years, and in that time we had finally come to understand the occasional frightening spells of weakness that would clamp down on him in the years of his manhood.  Sometime as a child he had contracted rheumatic fever; it had damaged the mitral valve of his heart, constricting the flow of blood and overburdening the heart muscle.  After years of abuse, the heart was failing.

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