Monday, February 16, 2009

I fed my dad today

He had more of an appetite and was more vocal today compared with prior days when he barely had the voice to speak. My mother and I could talk with him much more, though there was still that fogginess, a clouding of his understanding at times. When he was able to focus, just for moments at a time, my father was back.

"Want some more soup?" I asked him lightly. "You know I usually get paid top dollar for this level of service."

He didn't laugh at my joke but played along quietly. "It's good service," he said.

Before I start turning into the weepy son, let's be honest. My father and I have our deep core differences. And, I am ashamed to admit, there were times I would fly into a seething rage at the mere insinuation that I might be like him. Pretty childish of me.

I've done a lot of internal work addressing such things and learned to accept there are places where he and I will never reach common ground.

I suppose it's my mother's compassion that kicks in when I know someone needs help. During our visit Saturday, my mom decided to give Valentine's Day cards to the other patients in the same unit as my father. On that day while I tried with little success to get my dad to eat, she went bed-to-bed talking patiently to each person finding out who they were, how they were feeling. My mother has always been good at getting to know people she has just met.

"I have I got some stories to tell," she said when we left the hospital Saturday, her head filled with what she learned from the other people in that room.

I suppose we all have the story of ourselves we want others to hear and remember. For the past year or so, my father has had a rather troubled countenance to him. As his health issues increased, you could see him grow increasingly worried and unsettled.

Sorting through his papers this weekend I came across his driver's license issued just last year. The look on his face in that photo reflected both concern about the future and memories of the easier days that he missed.

Underneath it all I suppose my father is looking for reassurance, some comfort that tomorrow offers fresh hope.

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Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away