My father’s body: On creation, evolution, Alzheimer’s disease

The essay ‘My father’s body’ has been reprinted in NewSouth Books The Best Australian Science Writing 2013 eds Jane McCredie and Natasha Mitchell. It is to be launched in November 2013.


‘Last Sunday I went to church to be with my father, to say goodbye. As I looked in from the vestibule, I could see he was already there; he was early, the church was empty. I saw him before he saw me, his face to the pulpit, sitting in his wheelchair down the front at the end of the pew near the window, out on his own. His head was bowed like a church orchid, an altar display, as if he were praying. His body curled over like a ball – he looked so small I thought he could very well roll away during the service and disappear under a pew. He was leafing through a hymnbook, ruffling the corners of the pages. He knew exactly what it was he was looking for – at least he looked as if he did: a hymn number, a title, the first line perhaps, a favourite tune. Later, when I was close enough to help him, I saw that the book was upside down and back-to-front.’

Read more…


This essay was first published in Overland #197, summer, November, 2009, and republished in The Invisible Thread: One Hundred Years of Words ed Irma Gold 2012. Writing in December 2009, Overland editor Jeff Sparrow writes: Am I committing murder with this writing?

‘Here’s Francesca Rendle-Short’s extraordinary essay about her relationship with her fundamentalist father, a deceptively simply and very moving piece of prose. It should be read alongside Francesca’s earlier essay ‘Illicit desire’ about her mother, morals campaigner Angel Rendle-Short.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s