My father spent his last winter
Making ice-grips for shoes...
...My father should not have been doing
All that close work
In the drafty workshop, but as though
he sensed travel at the edge of his mind,
He would not be stopped...
...Plainly the giving was an asking,
A petition to be welcomed and useful-
Or maybe, who knows, the seed of a desire
Not to be sent alone out over the black ice...
...Mother writes tome: I am cleaning the workshop
And I have found
so many pairs of the ice-grips....
...What shall I do?..
And I write back: Mother, please
My father, in his last year, went out one fall day and raked up leaves. He'd had a heart transplant with many complications, in and out of danger in the 5 years after that surgery. A few days later he got a fungal pneumonia, perhaps born out of the decaying, wet leaves. Into the hospital he went, again, and this last time, he did not get out. .
He should not have been doing that work. But he wanted to be of use, to take part in the annual family ritual of raking leaves, and avoiding raking leaves. One year while I was away in college he sent me an envelope in which brown leaves from our yard were enclosed, with a note saying "Wish you were here."
Now in every leaf I see, my heart says, "Wish you were here" to my father. I too share the desires of fathers, to not be alone and to be of use. Any giving I do is really an asking, please, save me and save everything.
How does working or giving bring you connection to others? What will you do in the last year of your life?