A long, free verse poem about losing Dad...sort of.
|It’s just so sad, Dad.|
You had ninety-five good years
of health, but now … now
you’re gone … sort of.
I remember the strong man
that once carried me up
all those lighthouse stairs,
the man whose firm hands
rescued me from underneath
a rogue wave at Savannah Beach
that had knocked me off my feet
and had me submerged,
dragging me out to sea.
You were always there for me,
my childhood hero.
You raised me right, with advice
that has carried me through life well.
Your crossword puzzle-working
mind saw things clearly.
You were my sage mentor.
Even later after I had my own
career and family, I turned to you
because you always knew best.
You were forever hard-working –
a railroad man who worked inside
box cars welding, hammering, riveting,
in summer’s 100-degree heat so that
you came home with a salt ring
across the chest of your blue work shirt.
Later you became a train’s fireman,
then an engineer driving the locomotive.
You delivered an honest day’s work
with pride and taught me to do the same.
In retirement, you became a pool player
to be reckoned with … until your knees
failed you and made you unsteady,
subject to stumbling and falling.
Walking first required crutches,
progressing to riding on a scooter …
but you were still my Dad.
You kept your independence, living
alone after Mom died, in the house
she designed. You managed to keep
your good humor and big smile
despite all the trouble your knees
caused you, immobilizing you
over the years. Two things you said
you’d never do: be operated upon
(say to replace your knees) and
fly as a passenger in an airplane…
and you never did either.
You turned ninety-five this January,
and we lost you … sort of.
You didn’t die. You are still here,
just confined to a bed since your
knees buckle if you try to stand.
That we could accept.
But, your mind has suddenly
failed you like your knees.
Sudden onset of Alzheimer’s
the doctor says. Your mind has
gone to some other place
where you don’t work daily
cross-word puzzles in ink,
where you don’t recognize your children,
where you are confused and angry.
Now you are gone … sort of.
It’s just so sad, Dad.
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