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Death Bed Humor


By July 15, 20156 Comments

daddyI just marked the 15th year since my Dad passed away at age 94.  Thoughts?  Fifteen have years flown by, but the memories of my beloved father are as strong as ever. It will always feel as if he’s just left the room. His memory always brings a smile to my face, which is about as good as it gets when it comes to being remembered! He was a natural comedian with a gift for delivering a one -liner that was unsurpassable.

My Dad even managed to leave this world smiling.

About a week before he died, many of us close to him gathered around his bed, in what looked like the beginning of a classic death scene from a Hollywood movie.  The head nurse from the retirement home joined our somber group. Her attitude differed from the rest of us, she was all about taking care of business and taking control.  My dad was quietly laying in his bed, eyes closed, unable to say much.

“Nathan,” said the nurse, talking a little too loudly. ” All the people who love you are here to see you.”  She then proceeded to name all of us who had gathered around, “your daughter, your nephew, your niece, your son-in-law, etc.etc. ” It was as if she thought he had no idea who was present.  She then asked him, “Is there anyone else you’d like to see now? “

There was a brief pause.  None of us knew whether my Dad would respond or not.

Without missing a beat, my father said clearly, “Yes.”  Another pause. We all waited for his answer.  It came quickly.

“Marilyn Monroe!”


Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • April Walstad says:

    Ah, yes. That is such a good one and captures his wry charm! Good memories. Thank you, April

  • Susan Alexander says:

    What a fantastic story about your Dad’s last moments! He must have been an amazing man, with a great sense of humor! And I didn’t know about your Mom having Alzheimer’s before I read your other blog. Thanks for sharing such intimate details about your life. Looking forward to seeing you sometime in the near future! xxx

  • Judith says:

    So funny,My Mom asked for Paul Newman.

  • your dad is smiling NOW, having read your beautiful, touching and funny tribute to him, Dianne. I’m sure he’s so proud that you were/are his daughter. I now see where you get your sparkle from!

  • Nancy Rosenthal says:

    Oh Dianne, What a wonderful story. I have fond memories of stopping by your parent’s store every time I drove to Holyoke from DC. I would stop by to say hello to your mom and dad and then head on to my family home. Your mom would give me a wonderful welcoming smile and your dad would come out from behind the counter in the back of the store to greet me. He often had a twinkle in his eyes. They were a very special couple. Nancy

  • Brett Vapnek says:

    I did not remember this anecdote. Amazing!!