George Washington Crosby is dying on a hospital bed in the living room of the house he built himself. He hallucinates, imagining the house falling in on him, littering his bed with the accouterments of his life. George remembers many things, "in an order he cannot control." Most of all, he remembers his father Howard, who had epilepsy and was a tinker, a jack of all trades. In the spring before his death, George had gotten the inclination to record the details of his life. He was sadly disappointed with the result, however, finding his nasal, ordinary voice unworthy to "testify about holy things," and ended up throwing the tape into the trash. As he slips in and out of consciousness, George's thoughts are fragmented. One idea leads to another, linking details of Howard's past life with George's past and present. Dreams blend with reality, and George awakens, disturbed by the silence in the room. He realizes that his beloved clocks have run down, and asks his grandson, who is taking a turn sitting at his bedside, to start them up again. He takes comfort in "the rising chorus" of their ticking; they seem to breathe, and, hearing them, his own breathing comes more easily. George dozes, and images of his own and Howard's lives parade across his mind. When he wakes again, he asks for a shave, and solicitous family members scramble to comply. George is dying of renal failure, and descends once again into a semi-conscious state, recollecting the pastoral landscape of his childhood home, and the convoluted dynamics of family relationships.
(The entire section is 264 words.)
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