THE ADVOCATE 383
VOL. 78 PART 3 MAY 2020
He reached up to a framed photograph on top of the bookshelf. It was a
picture of all four of us, in the mahogany-hued foyer of Mark & Mark, the
day the firm’s sign went up. Oliver was fifteen; I was five. My arms were
wrapped around Yorick, our oversized black lab. His slobbery jaw held a
faded green tennis ball.
“I remember this day,” he said. “Alas, poor Yorick!”
“We collected a bunch of photos for your funeral. I kept that one.”
“Because of Yorick, of course. He died not long after we took that picture.”
Dad held his finger on Yorick and looked at me. “I have never seen a person
more bereft than you were at the loss of that dog.”
He was right. Dad died, and I wanted that picture because it contained
my dog. I cried so much more over Yorick than my father. Not fair. Not right.
But true. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.
Or maybe that’s part of adulthood. Being rational, not emotional. Accepting
that death happens. Applying for law school, not a useless master’s.
“I wanted a picture of all of us,” I told him, in what I hoped was a convincing
He looked at me from the corner of his eye and flashed his fetching
smile. “It is a wise father that knows his own child.” I hadn’t fooled him.
He was quoting Shakespeare, as usual. I blame my Dad for my love of
the theatre and literature. (Although I sometimes veer towards the not-soliterary,
if you include the Girl books.) That’s why it seemed so unfair that
he, even more than my mother, was opposed to my pursuit of acting.
I changed the subject. “Tell me about death. Did you see the white light,
or float off into the sunset?”
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” He gestured towards the newspaper
He was pursuing our game: Shakespeare or Not. One of us leads with a
quote. The other guesses whether it is from the Bard’s canon or not. Bonus
points if you can identify the author of the Not-Shakespeare.
“Is it true that Death and Love are the two wings that bear the good man
to Heaven?” I asked, taking my turn in the game. “Someone said that at your
funeral. Or ‘celebration of life’, they called it.”
Dad believed in God. Once I hit my teens, I only attended church under
protest. I don’t believe. But for the first time, at Dad’s service, I wished that
I did. What a comfort to think we could be together in the afterlife.
On the other hand, I believe in ghosts. Even before this visit from my
“That is not Shakespeare,” he said. “And I don’t know about heaven, at
least not yet. I’m new to this. But,” he deepened his voice, “I find your lack