After picking them up at the airport, college professor Gene Garrison spends the evening at home with his parents. The barbs of his father, Tom, run through his mind as he drives home. Gene seeks solace in the arms of his mistress, who pines for a more serious relationship with him. Soon after, his mother, Margaret, suffers a heart attack and is hospitalized. Upon visiting her at the hospital, Gene finds Tom pacing in the waiting room. Tom asks Gene to go to the Rotary Club with him, though Gene was expecting not to leave his mother’s side.
When Margaret dies, Gene helps his father shop for a casket. His sister, Alice, arrives without her husband and children. She explains to Gene that Tom’s failing memory and health will require constant care either in a nursing home or with live-in assistance. She broaches the idea with their father, who rejects it outright. The conversation brings up old tensions about Tom’s disinheritance of Alice over her taking a Jewish spouse. Alice leaves Gene to deal with their father by himself.
Gene’s girlfriend Peggy arrives for a visit. She is charmed by Tom and offers to relocate to New York to live with Gene and his father. That night, Gene and Tom reminisce together over old photographs. Tom’s love for his son comes shining through in their conversation, and he asks about a tune that Gene used to sing for him as a boy. Gene confesses that he never sang the tune for his father, but Tom recalls otherwise. Gene tells Tom that he is thinking about moving to California to be with Peggy, where she has a successful gynecological practice. Tom becomes irate at the notion, feeling abandoned. Gene leaves the house with Peggy and never comes back.