Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On Receiving An Anonymous Letter In The Mail Yesterday in Which I Am Told My Father Was Not My Father



I knew from the moment
I saw the nondescript
white envelope, no return address,
my name misspelled,
that I probably should not open it.

And I didn't then. I
waited until I got to work,
in the safety of flourescent lights
and coworkers who don't have enough
vested interest in me to do particularly
much when, two minutes after reading it,
I walk into one of their rooms and tell them
that I'm not who I thought I was.
That my father might not have been
my father.


**********************************************

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cream of Chicken Soup River

Back to crazy dreams again. Feel like I must have been
the one the doctors drugged last Friday.

In one dream, nearly all the children I have ever known
(my playmates, children I taught in kindergarten, children's
choir, and Sunday School [yes, I once attended church],
children I had in my brownie group, children I had in my
cub scout group, children I babysat, children I administered
meds to when I was a Med Tech, children I privately tutored,
children of the neighborhood, my nieces, and children
whose faces I did not know) were all floating away in a river
swollen and overflowing with cream of chicken soup.

They weren't drowning or anything like that.

They were just floating along.

I was looking out my kitchen window watching the current
carry them further and further away. I was watching
without horror or concern or happiness.

I was simply watching.

***********************************************

Last night I dreamed my house was destroyed
in a tornado. I remember telling my mother
to run to the basement as I grabbed my sleeping
son.

When we got to the basement, I was holding my infant
son (who is now 15), and also telling my 15 year old
and his friend to get down and cover their heads.

So, Wes was a baby in the dream and Wes was Wes.

It was so frightening. I could hear the freight train sound
and I could hear things hitting the house.

I had to keep telling my son and his friend to stay
put. I kept trying to keep the baby covered with his
blanket. I kept worrying about the fact that he didn't
have socks on.

I heard this tremendous sound of crashing metal
very nearby and fearing we may have to evacuate the basement,
I got up and looked out the window.

In the backyard of the house next door to me, two semi
trucks had been picked up by the tornado and dropped
in the yard. I remember that the trailers had pictures
of carnival rides painted on them so I thought they must
be trucks bringing the carnival to town.

Finally when I thought it was safe to come out
of the basement, I picked up the baby and told Mom,
Wes and his friend to follow me out.

My home was completely demolished. Only the basement
remained. My whole block was obliterated. I remember
thinking things are just things. We made it. We made it.

Of course the bad weather we had all weekend contributed
to that dream (or nightmare I should say).

Strange thing is how calm I felt when I awoke.

Generally when I have a dream like that, I wake up
with my heart racing, but I felt at peace. I felt like
everything was going to be ok.

*************************************************

I want to go to the cemetery and put some beautiful
burgundy, yellow, and purple mums next to Dad's
grave.

I don't know if I ever asked him what his favorite
season was. Autumn is mine. Such beauty to be found
in dying.

Funny how many days I think about
how many things I don't know about Dad.

Or maybe I do know but I can't remember what they are right now.

Monday, September 25, 2006

ON DEATH, WITHOUT EXAGGERATION

It can't take a joke,
find a star, make a bridge.
It knows nothing about weaving, mining, farming,
building ships, or baking cakes.

In our planning for tomorrow,
it has the final word,
which is always beside the point.

It can't even get the things done
that are part of its trade:
dig a grave,
make a coffin,
clean up after itself.

Preoccupied with killing,
it does the job awkwardly,
without system or skill.
As though each of us were its first kill.

Oh, it has its triumphs,
but look at its countless defeats,
missed blows,
and repeat attempts!

Sometimes it isn't strong enough
to swat a fly from the air.
Many are the caterpillars
that have outcrawled it.

All those bulbs, pods,
tentacles, fins, trachea,
nuptial plumage, and winter fur
show that it has fallen behind
with its halfhearted work.

Ill will won't help
and even our lending a hand with wars and coups d'etat
is so far not enough.

Hearts beat inside eggs.
Babies' skeletons grow.
Seeds, hard at work, sprout their first tiny pair of leaves
and sometimes even tall trees far away.

Whoever claims that it's omnipotent
is himself living proof
that it's not.

There's no life
that couldn't be immortal
if only for a moment.

Death
always arrives by that very moment too late.

In vain it tugs at the knob
of the invisible door.
As far as you've come
can't be undone.

Wislawa Szymborska

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Surgery

The surgery actually went well. Recovery room about
an hour. When your child is the one is surgery
and recovery, the clock on the wall seems to stop.

The minutes just drag by. You think you're all occupied
with talk of the rain and with the reading of articles
in Ladies Home Journal or AARP only to look up at the clock
and find that a mere five minutes have passed.

Wes was very nauseated after surgery. We didn't get to come
home until 5:15 (got there at 6:20 a.m.--rain pouring--dark.)

He feels better tonight. I took he and five of his friends
to a Chinese restaurant(I dropped them off and went back
to get them). He called and told me they were going to walk
across the street to the video store to get some campy horror
films, so I picked them up at the video store.

I can hear them in there laughing as I type.

He is uncomfortable but not really in pain. Just have to make
sure he doesn't get an infection.

Leaving for the Dodge Poetry Festival Wednesday, so his dad
needs to know what to look for (signs of infection). So, we'll
cover that ground tomorrow.

Little sleep last night. Had just fallen asleep (an hour or so)
when Wes woke me up telling me it sounded like a tornado
outside. We had warnings all night.

Oh the rain and the wind and the thunder and lightning...
on and on and on all night. No power for hours. Little
sleep, but we are better today.

Just about to finish the Callas biography. Didn't know
she was only 53 when she died. Didn't know so much
about her life.

Tired. Stats homework tomorrow. Need to go see Mom.

She called today and told me she stayed in the closet
beneath the stairwell for some time last night
while the winds were howling.

I don't know what she and Dad used to do in these circumstances.
I guess I never asked.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Grief is a Mouse

793

Grief is a Mouse—
And chooses Wainscot in the Breast
For His Shy House—
And baffles quest—

Grief is a Thief—quick startled—
Pricks His Ear—report to hear
Of that Vast Dark—
That swept His Being—back—

Grief is a Juggler—boldest at the Play—
Lest if He flinch—the eye that way
Pounce on His Bruises—One—say—or Three—
Grief is a Gourmand—spare His luxury—

Best Grief is Tongueless—before He'll tell—
Burn Him in the Public Square—
His Ashes—will
Possibly—if they refuse—How then know—
Since a Rack couldn't coax a syllable—now.

Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Capturing the Essence of Carlotta

Dragged my old Minolta
out at lunch today
to capture the Maximilian

sunflowers
draping themselves across
dead yucca stalks.

And I thought of Carlotta.

How she must have begged
to drape her body across his,
how she suffered

at Miramar without him,
all those nights with only her little
doll max in bed with her,

the voices of the dead her most
steadfast friends.


**************************************************

I was taking some paper out to the recylcing bins
when I saw the sunflowers and just had to go inside
and get my old Minolta X370. Having problems with
the shutter speed. Can't seem to figure out how to fix
it, so the pics might not turn out.

Also captured what I think is the last pink hardy hibiscus
of the season. It was so lovely there, near the ground
but fully opened, dead blossoms strewn all around.

Been sneezing my head off, but this is my time of year.
Planted asters and ornamental kale and pansies and mums
over the weekend. Been paying for it since but it all looks so very lovely.
In the Mushroom Summer

Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,
mist in the pines so thick the crows delight
(or seem to), winging in obscurity.
The ineffectual panic of a squirrel
who chattered at my passing gave me pause
to watch his Ponderosa come and go--
long needles scratching cloud. I'd summited
but knew it only by the wildflower meadow,
the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian,
scattered among the locoweed and sage.
Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.

David Mason

Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm not new to opera...no, not at all, but the feeling is new,
green, naive, hungry, insatiable.

My mom listened to opera, as she listened to Bob Dylan
and Willie Nelson and Belafonte and Mancini and Cash and on and on...

I grew up thinking I'd never like anything she listened
to.

Then came my own trips to the opera. Age 40+. Madame
Butterfly. Turandot.

That's it.

And now my dining room vibrates as Maria Callas sings
her octaves. La Mamma Morta. How beautiful. How tragic.
How the diningroom in the late night hours transforms me,
the oval oak table becomes the mirror, the hardwood floors
my stage...how alone I am. How alone. In my fears and in my love
and in my passion.

How is it:

La mamma morta "("Andrea Chenier" Maddalena di Giordano atto 3°)
Madeleine
La mamma morta
They killed my mother
m'hanno a la porta
Close by the doorway leading to
della stanza mia;
my chamber.
moriva e mi salvava!...
In dying,she saved my life.
Poi a notte alta io cor.Bersi errava,
Then,at dead of night.
quando,ad un tratto,un livido
I left the house with Bersi,
bagliore
And in the distance,
guizza e rischiara innanzi a'passi
The flames leapt up behind us;
miei
Fierce tongues of fire set all the
la cupa via!
sky aglow,
Guardo!...Bruciava il loco di mia
Lighting our path.
culla!
My home,my well-loved home,
Così fui sola!...E intorno il nulla!
Was burnt to ashes.
Fame e miseria!...
I was alone.
Il bisogno,il periglio!...
I had no shelter.
Caddi malata!...
Hungry and needy,danger
E Bersi,buona e pura,
haunted my footsteps.
di sua bellezza ha fatto
Then I fell ill,and Bersi,poor
un mercato,un contratto per me!
faithful creature,
Porto sventura a chi bene mi vuole!
She would not leave me:

She bartered her beauty to keep me alive.
(A un tratto nelle pupille larghe di Ma
I bring misfortune even to those.

who love me.
dalena si effonde una luce di suprema
In all this sorrow,
gioia, una gran luce profonda come
My poor heart woke to love.

In a voice of soft compassion he
riflesso di splendore misterioso)
murmured: "Heard him who
Fu in quel dolore
calls thee.Life itseid enfolds thee!
che a me venne l'amor!
In my arms,no harm can befall
Voce piena d'armonia
thee,
E dice: "Vivi ancora! Io son la vita!
I am here beside thee.
Nè miei occhi è il tuo cielo!
Thy tears of despair,I will banist
Tu non sei sola! Le lagrime tue
Tho guide thy faltering footsteps,
io le raccolgo!...io sto sul tuo
I shall be near thee!
Cammino
Let joy fill thy being,
e ti sorreggo!
For Love itself am I!
Sorridi e spera! Io son l'amore!...
Though thy path be dark with
Tutto intorno è sangue e fango?...
terror,
Io son divino!...
I shall bring solace.
Io son l'oblio!...
Take heart again!
Io sono il dio
Raise your eyes and behold me;
che sovra il mondo scende da
I come to thee from out the vault
l'empireo.
of heaven above,
Fa della terra un ciel....
Making earth a paradise.
Ah! Io son l'amor!...
The god of Love am I!
E l'angelo si accosta,bacia,e vi
The angel hovered near me
bacia la morte!...
And kissed me with the cold kiss
Corpo di moribonda è il corpo
of death.
mio!
So take this worthless body,here
Prendilo,dunque!..Io son già
before you.
Morta cosa!....
"This as you wish...for I am dead already"




Perhaps because I am reading a biography of Maria
I am so entranced. Perhaps because "I am dead already" I love this so.
The Swan

This laboring through what is still undone,
as though, legs bound, we hobbled along the way,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.

And dying--to let go, no longer feel
the solid ground we stand on every day--
is like his anxious letting himself fall

into the water, which receives him gently
and which, as though with reverence and joy,
draws back past him in streams on either side;
while, infinitely silent and aware,
in his full majesty and ever more
indifferent, he condescends to glide.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Living

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.


Denise Levertov

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Last Days of Pompeii

What if the ashes came down on us,
a black avalanche trapping our bodies
in their twenty-first century beds,
your spine buttressed with pillows,
wearing taped-up wire glasses,
an old book cracked open
against the knobs of your knees.
And me curled next to you, one hand
on your chest like a wind-blown
blossom, in socks and T-shirt, asleep,
just beginning to dream.

Preserved for time without end
this end-of-day tableau, on view
in a glass room in the future's
museum, two dragonfiles sealed
in amber or ice. Or ruined statues,
arms and heads lopped off,
the painstaking calculations
of geometry and physics, reconstructing,
from whorled stumps, our inner lives:

the possum bent on a wet road in the blue
headlights of my dream, the marriage
of our bodies only moments before
the ash rushed in like the sea, sheathing
each small thing in cinders and shadows,
what we gave each other encased
in dust: the ring on the sink, a brass angel
with hammered wings, their meaning
a secret even from us, your eyes
seared blind for eternity, my hair
splayed against the pillows of dirt
like a handful of dark straw.

Dorianne Laux
Bummed

Wes has to have surgery next Friday--pilonidal cyst.
He was major bummed about it. Not to mention that fact
that it's hard to tell your buds, at age 15, that you have to have your bum
cut into. But, it has to be done.

Could have been born with it. Could be that the conditions
were just right for it to form, but as the doctor said
before she examined him

"Well, you'll either be one of the lucky ones who doesn't develop
a cyst or the unlucky fellar who does." And she took one look and said
"Well, unlucky it is, son. It has to come out."

Mostly I've been just pulled in a thousand different directions
and unable to focus or give much to anyone.

Stats is not kicking my ass, but it's trying its best to do so.

Criminology is interesting, but the drive is long and I'm so tired.

Mom starting writing haikus for Dad. She said it helps her,
when she wakes up in the middle of the night, to go downstairs
and just start writing.

She can't see much (cataracts are severe but can't do surgery
now because she has a growth in the inner corner of her right eye
that may be cancerous, so it's wait and see).

So, she writes in very
large letters with permanent marker in one of those small
notebooks (what do they call those things????).

It's so difficult for me to go to the house. No Dad. Never again.
Heartbroken Mom. They were 3 months away
from their 50th anniversary when Dad died in April.

It's strange how you don't know how much someone
really loved someone else until one of them is gone.

Mom and Dad fought all the time when we were growing up.
Well, basically Mom yelled a lot at Dad and he just sat there.

I always wondered why in the hell they stayed together
when they didn't seem to get along at all, but I could always
tell by the way my father looked at my mother how very much
in love with her he was. I just didn't know how much she loved him.

But it's obvious she did, and she misses him so much.
Excerpts from Bob Dylan's Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie

And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Dead

At night the dead come down to the river to drink.
They unburden themselves of their fears,
their worries for us. They take out the old photographs.
They pat the lines in our hands and tell our futures,
which are cracked and yellow.
Some dead find their way to our houses.
They go up to the attics.
They read the letters they sent us, insatiable
for signs of their love.
They tell each other stories.
They make so much noise
they wake us
as they did when we were children and they stayed up
drinking all night in the kitchen.

Susan Mitchell

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Opened the Selected verse of Federico Garcia Lorca to this poem:

Capriccio

Behind each mirror
is a dead star
& a baby rainbow
sleeping.

Behind each mirror
is a blank forever
& a nest of sliences
too young to fly.

The mirror is the wellspring
become mummy, closes
like a shell of light
at sunset.

The mirror
is the mother dew,
the book of desiccated
twilights, echo become flesh.



Glad I did.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Been a really rough last 1/2 hour, Dad


Saw an older gentleman getting out of his car
at the post office and that was all it took.

I started crying. Then I started trying to remember
what your voice sounded like, but I can't remember.

And I can't remember what your smile looked like
or your eyes, and I can't look at pictures.

20 weeks and 1 day now. I can't believe I actually
looked at the calendar and counted the weeks.

When will this pain end, Dad? When? I want to
just be able to think about you and smile
and remember all the things I loved about you
and you loved about me. But my heart feels
like it will never be free to do that.

I miss you, Dad. So terribly.
If Death is Kind

Perhaps if death is kind, and there can be returning,
We will come back to earth some fragrant night,
And take these lanes to find the sea, and bending
Breathe the same honeysuckle, low and white.

We will come down at night to these resounding beaches
And the long gentle thunder of the sea,
Here for a single hour in the wide starlight
We shall be happy, for the dead are free.

Sara Teasdale

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Words on my notepad, last two weeks:

hellebores
aquarelle
salt water
gullah
absinthe
Abbey Road
frangipani
asterix
$41,283.60
Russian sage
referrals
scabiosa
planorbid
temple tree
Nembulas
heretic
ruched
black beans
rotel
long-grain rice
sinistral
cloisonne
soft-exit
1969
Khepri
eponymous
dupatta
sedum
salwar kameez
Ice Angels
Giza
apogee
The Fields of the Blessed
April Remembered
foist
astilbe
It's raining, it's pouring...


Had a call yesterday from Joan telling me she was at the ER
with my mother-in-law--possible heart attack. Went to the
ER and found that things were going well. EKG normal--1st
set of tests very good but the doctor wanted to keep her overnite.

Picked her up this morning and took her home. She's feeling much
better. It's just hard for her--all of this. Gene in the hospital since
Father's Day, and now he's in a hospital 55 miles from home, his leg
sliced open from the thigh to the ankle, a wound vac running constantly.

With her foot in a cast and boot, she can't drive, and she really
doesn't need to go every day--it's too hard on her. She's an amazing
87 year old. No one ever believes that she can be that age. She's
one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, and she continues
to grow more beautiful with each passing year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fog

I was outside under the carport, hiding
between the Highlander and the raised
flower bed so my son wouldn't see me trashing
my lungs with cigarettes and killing myself
by degrees when it rolled in and all the unspokens
burdening my being became clear the way things
do when mist envelops and you can't rely on what you see.

The streetlights became minature suns. The trees
white buffaloes come together for the ghost dance.
And I, I had become a visitor to my own home--
a visitor exploring the delicacies of finely spun
webs stretched between the morning glories
and tiny inland nautili scattered across the crumbling
concrete planters.

Surely I did not know this place. Could not have been
standing there for an hour or more chatting about Jersey,
lunch in Manhattan. This place I stood in, with the fog
wrapping me in its cocoon was not the same. I know so.
Because I was not the same. I was five margaritas,
ten marlboros and four months removed from
the night you died. A fogless, starry, moonlit night,
so bright my eyes could not adjust to the clarity of moonlight
and mortality.

*************************************************
The fog really was inviting last night and not so thick
I couldn't see to drive.

Felt compelled to write something about it so the piece
above is my best attempt. God, it's been so long since
I've written or tried to write a poem.

Oh, and yesterday I saw a rainbow--
the first one I've seen in several years.

I kept craning my neck
to see it. I wanted to pull off the road and just look at it
until it dissipated, but I kept driving through the rain,
driving to the grocery and to the shopping mall
and to my home and to life.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Zapped

Can't continue the detailed account today. So, so tired. It's no wonder
though. Briefly:

3/26: Dad life-fighted to Louisville.

4/14: Dad brought back to M'ville by ambulance. Admitted
to Med/Surg at Regional Medical Center.

4/20: Dad dies at 10:58 p.m.

4/24: Dad is buried at West KY Veteran's Cemetery with full
military honors (30 year Navy officer)

4/25: 3:00 a.m. or so: Eldest brother and his girlfriend
leave in the middle of the night. Everyone drinking that
night. Words exchanged. I wasn't there (youngest had school
the next day so I went home early)

4/28: Take my sister and her daughter to Nashville. Spot
the beagles on the parkway. Stay until they are rescued.
Arrive in N'ville and stay the night with Lauren.

4/29: Take my sis and niece to the airport at 7 a.m.

5/01: Return to work and classes. Have one more month
of Spanish, Psychology, and Philosophy to complete.

5/02-6/18: Life's a blur. Brain in a fog. Wrote some things. Just
drifted and cried most every day. Several times a day.

6/18--Father's Day: Mom planned a big picnic.
We were going to celebrate out in the back by Dad's
garden. Rained all morning. Ate inside. Too
emotional to go see my fahter-in-law. Called
and left him a message that I would be by to see him
on Tuesday.

11:00 p.m.: Call from my mother-in-law. Father-in-law
had a heart attack. Was admitted at 5 that evening.

6/19, Monday: Called to check on father-in-law (Gene).
Reported to be feeling better.

6/20: 6:30--Go to hospital to see Gene. He looks good
and says he's feeling better. Docs are running tests.

6/21: Don't go to hospital--class night. No word from
mother-in-law (Marie). Hoping all is ok.

6/22: Daughter's 25th birthday. Called her then called Marie.
Gene in CCU--heart failure. Will need a quadruple bypass.

6/23-7/06: Can't remember--too much going on.

7/06. Quadruple Bypass. Gene did well. Long way to go.

7/26: Oldest son's 28th birthday

8/07: Gene moved to long-term care facility for further rehab

8/15: Start my Stats class. Every T & Th. morning. 9:30-
10:45. Must work an extra hour to and hour and a half
to make up time.

8/22: Gene sent to hospital with fever, CHF, and pneumonia.

8/25: Emergency surgery performed. Wound infected with
clostridium perfringens. Serious. Serious. Did well in surgery.

8/27: Call from friend. Wants to die (as in suicide).

8/28: My 30th wedding anniversary.

8/29: Mother-in-law told by doc that her right foot
must go in a cast and boot. Sends her to the sports rehab
facility to be shown the correct way to use a walker.
Driving restrictions. Much pain in her foot.

8/29: D shows up at my house. Wants to stay for a few nights.
Paranoia worse. Feels she's being stalked. Draining night.

8/30: Drive to Owensboro for Criminology class. 2 hour round trip.
Get home and youngest son tells me to call my mom. She may have skin cancer.

8/30: Mom goes for cataract surgery evaluation. Doc tells her he thinks
she may have skin cancer in the inner corner of her right eye. Wants
to treat it with drops and an eye wash for one month. Will
evaluate again on 9/30. If necessary, biposy. If cancer, will send
Mom to Louisville for surgery.

8/31: D back again. Let her stay on 8/29. Said no on 8/30. Reluctantly
let her stay this night.

9/01: Father-in-law moved to a wound vac rehab facility in Evansville,IN.
55 miles away. May be there 4-6 weeks.

9/02: Walk an hour. Take Marie to get some things done. Come home.
Crash.

9/03: Work in yard 4-5 hours.

9/04: Spend several hours on Stats. Confused. Take Marie to E'ville.
Visit with Gene. Leave Marie at the hospital. Go to Best Buy
and get 2 computer chairs. I go to Michael's (son and husband
are still in Best Buy) and get funeral cones, oil paints, brushes,
some canvases, a picture frame, and a cobalt blue genie bottle.
Go to Borders. Buy Larry Levis's Elegy, Rolling Stone
magazine (Dylan on the cover), and 3 Lindor's truffles.

5:30. Go back to hospital. Visit a little longer. Take Grandma (Marie)
to Olive Garden to eat. Get home at 8:45. Read some Levis and Laux
and the Dylan interview. Crash. Sleep very poorly.

9/05: Work. School. Fatigue.
The Truth the Dead Know
by Anne Sexton

For my Mother, born March 1902, died March 1959
and my Father, born February 1900, died June 1959

Gone, I say and walk from church,
refusing the stiff procession to the grave,
letting the dead ride alone in the hearse.
It is June. I am tired of being brave.

We drive to the Cape. I cultivate
myself where the sun gutters from the sky,
where the sea swings in like an iron gate
and we touch. In another country people die.

My darling, the wind falls in like stones
from the whitehearted water and when we touch
we enter touch entirely. No one's alone.
Men kill for this, or for as much.

And what of the dead? They lie without shoes
in the stone boats. They are more like stone
than the sea would be if it stopped. They refuse
to be blessed, throat, eye and knucklebone.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tuesday

March 28th, 2006

10 a.m. or so: We arrive at the hospital. Visiting hours started at 9:30. We slept late, so we didn't get there before 9:30. Can't remember much from this day. Just the worry, the trying to talk with a doctor (you go to the bathroom and you miss them and then they aren't back until the next day). Dad knew us and he was trying to answer the questions the nurses and therapists asked. Many he answered correctly, but they couldn't understand him.

11:00 a.m. or so: Call my brother and ask him if he can come stay with Dad so I can take Mom and Jason home to get some clothes, pay some bills, go to the bank, and make some calls. Mom and Jason had only the clothes they wore when we left town at 3 a.m. I already had my suitcase packed and in the car as I was prepared for the 4 -day conference in Nashville that I was going to attend. My brother sounded a bit put out that I would ask him to come stay with Dad. He said he'd call me back and let me know if he could.

12:30-1:00: I think Mom and I ate in the cafeteria that day. I had spinach and mushroom dish, a salad, greens, and broccoli. I remember Mom had baked cod. It was sunny outside. It was noisy in the cafeteria. It was filled with doctors. I wanted to go from table to table to find a doctor who could go upstairs and figure out what was wrong with my dad.

Around 2 p.m.: My brother shows up and says he'll stay with Dad. He opens up his paper, doesn't make eye contact with me and states that he can make no promises about how long he can stay with Dad. I lose it. I raise my voice and point my finger in his face and ask him why he's acting like he's doing everyone some great big favor. I say, "Our Dad may be dying in there and you act like this is a Sunday walk in the park kind of thing and like you're doing all of us this great favor staying here with YOUR father so YOUR mother can go home, get some clothes, and take care of some things. What in the hell is wrong with you???? " He looked quite surprised. He said some nasty things. He said he refused to speak with me again. Jason was trying to mediate and telling us we were upsetting Mom. Ugly scene. Lots of anxiety, anger, frustration.

We didn't go home that day but planned to go the next day. Plans changed.

9:30 p.m. or so: Made our way back to the hotel. More drinks and sandwiches. My drinks of choice--wine or margaritas. My brother's: the cheapest beer available. My mom's: lots of coffee. We talked until very late and then crashed. We called the hospital for a report before going to bed. Dad's vitals were stable and he was resting.

Wednesday

March 29th, 2006

ETA--10 a.m. or so. Nurses told Mom that Dad had cussed all of them out the night before and was making so much noise and was so agitated that they gave him Ativan. At this point, he is on Dilantin, Ativan, Lasix, Morphine, Potassium, and I think some other things that I can't remember at the moment but I know I have them written on a scratch piece of paper somewhere--maybe in my purse.

1:30 or so p.m.: Mom, Jason, and I are waiting for the nurse to answer our call (you had to press a button, ask to come in, and then they'd unlock the doors). Dad's team of doctors come out of the NIC--Remmel, Wanahita, and another one whose name I can't recall. They tell us they still don't have a diagnosis and are still in the ruling-out process. I write this note on a scrap piece of paper I had in my purse: Anna Wanahita, Dr. Remmel. This weekend Dr. Michael Dobbs. Ativan, Seroquel, Toradol, Keppra, Dilantin. Tomorrow: NG tube--food/Acyclovir. EEG tomorrow--3/30/06. We asked why he was on so many meds and if the meds could be making his confusion and speech worse. We're told he needs the meds to try to help him relax and to calm him down and to prevent a seizure until they know more about his condition.We make the decision to stay in Louisville because the doctors are going to insert a feeding tube. They try but can't get it in. They decide to try again on Thursday.

9:00 p.m.: We stayed all day. Rode the hotel shuttle to and from the hospital that day. Got back to the room. Yes, sandwiches again. Think Mom had a salad and baked potato. Jason and I stayed outside on the balcony and talked until late. We also answered lots of phone calls and placed lots of them to update others on Dad's condition. Very restless all night.
Attitude toward Death

Live your life that the fear of death
can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views
and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life,
beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long
and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day
when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting
or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks,
the fault lies in yourself.
Touch not the poisonous firewater that makes wise ones turn to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die, be not like those
whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray
for a little more time to live their lives over again
in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.

The Teachings of Tecumseh