the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Keeps On Ticking

This weekend was Father’s Day and my father’s birthday. My father passed away a few years ago, during my first year of blogging. I started to write a sentimental post about my father tonight, but then I stopped. I was writing it more for YOU than for me. I was faking my sentimentality. I don’t feel it. This is the first year I feel more angry over his death than anything else. It would be nice to talk to him during this transitional part of my life. Why have people alive if they are only going to die?

During my father’s last moments in the hospital — I stood by the bed with my mother, Sophia, my uncle, and the rabbi. The young doctor in his care at the time, overwhelmed with too many patients on a busy afternoon, took the respirator off of my father and we waited for my father’s last breath. Sophia came over and held his hand. But then something happened — the heart monitor kept on beating. And beating. For longer than it should have continued. We all stood there, during these painful moments, stuck in limbo. What was going on? Was he still alive? Or not?

“Does the patient wear a pacemaker?” asked the clueless doctor.

Nice. The medical staff had forgot to turn off my father’s pacemaker, so it kept on beating even after my father’s death, like the Timex watch with the metallic watchband that my father always wore on his right wrist, and which I still keep in the drawer in his memory. If it wasn’t such a gross error by the medical staff, my father’s last prank on the family would have been amusing.

Today, this memory makes me angry, not at the doctor, but at the whole concept of living and dying. Takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. That is a lie for anything other than Timex.


  1. headbang8

    The “anger” stage of your grief is long overdue.

  2. maggie, dammit

    I’m sorry, Neil.

  3. Chris

    “Gross error” is an understatement. I’m sorry.

    The Timex commercial stirs many memories.

  4. kenju

    I’m sorry Neil. I hope you can now get beyond the anger.

  5. Finn

    I wish I had answer to that question. I ask it myself all the time.

  6. V-Grrrl

    My parents have been gone 17 years now. They died 12 years after I left home. Their place in my life shrinks every year, the memories recede. Long ago I stopped feeding my grief and it has lost its strength. It only surfaces once in a while and never on holidays or birthdays or the times one would expect it to.

  7. Maven

    Much love and empathy. I’m angry for my own situation, and for yours. These things make the world seem all the more random and uncertain.



    Holy shit!

  9. SciFi Dad

    Jeezus H. Christ.

  10. Long Story Longer

    Jesus, I’m sorry, Neil. That is awful.

    I don’t really have a father and I was having a fucking lousy day yesterday until I realized it was Father’s Day. It’s a very loaded day for many.

  11. Danny

    Good for you for not going for sentimentality when you weren’t feeling it. Of course this post is just as moving as that one would have been, if not more. My mother’s birthday was also on Mother’s Day and I could relate to those emotions. Your dad always seemed like such an amazing guy, I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet him. (And oy, I remember those Timex commercials!)

  12. churlita

    Let yourself be angry. I find that if I don’t allow myself to feel the negative emotions, they come back later in weird ways. I’ll wonder what the hell my problem is, and finally figure out that I had been denying my emotions. So, let it flow.

  13. Musingwoman

    I hate death. Hate it with all my being.

  14. teahouseblossom


  15. medicthree

    Sorry Neil. Those of us in the medical profession hate to see when someone has a bad taste about the experiences they’ve had with our colleagues. Dying is a difficult process. Our fuckups don’t make it any easier.

  16. gorillabuns

    “Why have people alive if they are only going to die?”

    I’m with you on this one Neil.

  17. ACG

    sorry for the late response… sending you hugs if you are still in need.

  18. leah

    motherfucker that sucks about the pacemaker. in reality, we’re all dying a little more everyday.

    being mad about the whole thing is cool, and quite necessary.

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