NPM – 18 of 30

New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day

we woke him just before midnight
glasses of champagne in hand
ready to toast the new year
and whatever remaining days or hours
we have together with him

we helped him sit up
swung his legs off the side of the bed
so he could join us in
our bittersweet toast

the champagne was cold with a tangy zip
we closed our eyes as it slid down our throats
along with our bone-deep sadness
our tilted uncertainties
at least in that moment
because he was still with us
his blue eyes still seeing us
still able to tell us he loved us
as we got him back into bed
in the early minutes of a new year

when he said he didn’t want breakfast
my sister & I shared a look
the nurses had told us that when we noticed
deviations in routine that it was a sign
of transition – no breakfast was the 2nd sign
the first was when he complained of chest pain
and asked what narcotics we had in the house

in the kitchen I tried to remember
the directions the nurse had given us
about dispensing the morphine
I was overwhelmed with the task
almost couldn’t do it, but I had to
I administered the medicine then
we brought him to the living room

instead of breakfast, he asked us to sit
with him and hold his hands, he asked
me to play a song, something about miles
from here by Dwight Yoakum
I thanked the internet gods who found
“A Thousand Miles from Here,” after
that song, he asked me to play whatever
I liked that was in that vein, so I called
on the ‘old-timey’ songs I knew to try
to make him happy

I started with Johnny Cash’s version of
“A Satisfied Mind,” then Alison Krauss
singing “I’ll Fly Away.” He asked if the
saddles were put away, and Sandy said they had,
the morphine was working
he asked me to find a gospel group that he liked,
I found and played the Blackwood Brothers
Sandy & I shared a laugh at its blatant Christianity,
not typical for our areligious family
somewhere in the midst of this YouTube jukebox
he remembered that Sandy had made brownies
the night before and he asked for one
he indicated he wanted me to keep the music going
I went through the songs I knew would give me comfort
“This World is not My Home,” “Will the Circle be
Unbroken,” and “Keep on the Sunny Side”

during these songs, he would react, shake his head
from side to side, smile a little, his ways of showing
his enjoyment and then he had another request, he
wanted to hear Pat Boone’s father-in-law,
another web search brought up Red Foley
at the sound of the name, he clapped and said,
“That’s him!” The rest of the morning belonged
to Red – my sister took a shower, my mom
wandered in and out of the room, and I kept
playing music, watching it soothe my dad
just as much as the morphine

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sandy says:

    Oh my goodness. If I don’t hear Red Foley again, I’ll be fine. So many memories.

  2. josefa says:

    You two can be feeling proud of the way you were here for your father during his last days on earth. I feel he enjoyed the attention and I feel strongly that we did all we could for him and that what he chose to do with his life was the right thing.

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