Thursday, August 23, 2012

Parents. Can't live with them or...

Let's face it -none of us would even be here if not for our parents.  No matter how good or bad they are or were, we often take them for granted.  The sheer fact of their existence is proof of ours, or at least a conduit for it.

I've had several friend lose a parent lately, and I just lost one of mine last year.  My friends' hurting hearts bring all of my grief top of mind; it resurfaces in surprising ways that humble me.

As human beings we tend to glorify the dead, and maybe rightly so.  What we take for granted in life is somehow magnified in death.  The tremendous power of loss breaks down those defense mechanisms that limit our gratitude or constrict our capacity for love, appreciation, tolerance.  I believe I love my father even more now that he is gone.  The value of his impact on my life becomes ever more apparent as I face the many struggles and joys of this life without him. It is only in the losing of him that I found him as he really is/was - a slightly more objective view perhaps.  Hindsight, as they say...

The fragile continuum between life and death feels like a thin rubber band, variable, taut and oh so easily severed.  We are all eagerly fooled by the illusion of strength and evolution - believing our human bodies can adapt to any circumstances that may arise.  I've developed a profound appreciation for how foolish I am, especially after sitting vigil as my father slowly slipped away in a Hospice ward last summer.  Death, in all its forms, is like a mirror for truth, forcing us to face reality head on, in all its raw and precious glory.  Magnifying the goodness of those who've left us behind is probably our way to count the many blessings they offered us, belatedly.

I warn you this poem is rough, but God, is it truthful.  Proceed with caution...

Hospice Blues:
It ain’t for the faint of heart.

Smells of sanitizer
and inside air
sounds of gurgled breath
the date in erasable blue
leaving no doubt
of how many days are left.
"Billie" the kind one
bringing drugs and quiet chats
as memory goggles
shade my eyes;
I sense the Billie-Shellie-Deb du jour
but see only
the snowmen, stories, silly surprises
that would not make up
the scrapbook of my life
were it not for this gentle man
they tend,
who lay struggling
with the decision
tween this world and the next,
considering slowly and precisely
the perfect moment to give-in,

Time slows
to a steady rhythmic pulse
as jobs and loves
even dinner plans
fade to back
as the dashboard of my days
wipes tears or prayers
on intermittent speeds;
phone-rings, car horns,
even hunger pangs
do not disturb
the trance-like watching
in this stark and joyless room
my Daddy's pit stop
on the arduous race
to a hopefully pain free place.

I cannot bear to look
yet dare not look away
a treasure map of torture
dots his legs, fingers, face
He's molting
day by day
shedding this emaciated shell
removing All
that hinders him from Grace.

... and later ...

Thinning days
drying lips
the graying of knuckles
that weight upon my heart
to be with him
to let him go
an hourly quiz
that jars my soul
swinging like a metronome
tween morbid valleys of gripping fear
and roller coaster heights
of grateful wonder, honor, awe
to share the final moments
in his quiet denouement.
I think
        I'm lucky
I know
   that I am older
         without the wiser
         of Goodbye
the one and only gift
I could not wrap myself to give.

©2012 DOS
The excerpts of all of the poems presented in this blog are copyright protected, as each and every poem has been copyrighted.   For a complete copy of any poem, feel free to email your request to:

No comments:

Post a Comment