A free-verse poem written after the death of my father.
|October 16, 2015 weather-wise
was a spectacularly beautiful day
all across the South as we sped east
from Shreveport, Louisiana to
Peachtree City, Georgia.
Yet the day was dark and foreboding.
The day was warm with bright,
sunny blue skies that sparkled.
However, worry and gloom rode
as unwelcomed passengers
in the car with my wife and me,
for we had received that dreaded
phone call delivering the news
that my 97-years-old father
now lay dying.
The states and the hours crawled pass
until ten and a half hours later
we rushed into my father’s nursing home
to join my sister and brother-in-law
in the death watch for my dad’s last breath.
Friday, October 16, 2015 was one
of those dreaded, despicable days
in one’s life that will remain forever
etched in my memory.
On that date near midnight began
our long days of watching the rise
and fall of my father’s chest as he
struggled to take another breath.
The doctor said Pop might live for
only a few hours more or perhaps
might survive another two weeks.
We spoke into Pop’s ear reassuring words
that we hoped reached into his conscious
mind far enough to be understood,
words telling him we were there at his side
and that he was much loved.
We kept an around-the-clock vigil,
watching and waiting day after long day.
Pop’s breathing was at times peaceful
and regular, with intervals of labored,
irregular breaths where he struggled.
Death and my father fought
a long and mighty battle.
Pop must have looked Death
squarely in the face, spat in his eye,
and kicked him in the gonads
on several occasions when Death
closed in for the kill before Pop
was ready to submit.
Death swung his scythe and
claimed Pop at 5:05 PM on Sunday,
October 25th in the year 2015
at 97 years, nine months of age.
You were a good man, Pop,
known for your kindness, honesty,
and great sense of humor.
You shall be forever loved and
missed by all who were fortunate
enough to have known you.
Harry Edward Gilleland, Sr
January 29, 1918 - October 25, 2015