Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ice - January 31, 2010

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

Save everything.

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?

1 comment:

  1. I muddled around until I think I now can add a comment. I, too, feel connected to someone or family when working along side of them. My mother cleared out many of my father's things that I would have liked to save. I can understand that to her it was just one more tool she didn't need. To me it was the memory of the wonder as my father taught me to use the tool and craft things from wood in quiet moments together. I can remember without the tool, but it would be nice to feel it again in my hands.
    For my last year of life I would like to emulate Joanne Parsons. I'd like to enjoy life and friends until the end. I'd like to give dialysis or other treatment a try, but when it took too much time and didn't improve my comfort, stop the procedureand welcome death at a time of my choosing.