I noticed the sad smiles of the nurses and the way they left us finally alone with him; the discarded socks; the empty lobby; the absence of any doctors.
I heard the silence of the useless machines; Sinatra singing about easy street; sirens wailing somewhere off in the darkness; the phone ringing too early, my brother apologizing for the hour, but "Come" he said; the rush of hot water on my heavy head.
I admired his grace and final acceptance; making it easy for us, for me, by not coming home to die; his concern always for someone else, someone worse off than he.
I was astonished by the snow in mid-November; by my brothers surprised faces that I should take my time in getting there; astonished that our last real talking had been about that damned car just a week earlier; that we would end this day scrutinizing his tuxedo and its cigarette burns.
I'd like to see that sunrise again, over the ocean, with the snow falling outside the window; him at the coffee pot or brooding over his computer; that light he kept in his eyes for me; his feet stamping and anger that used to frighten me so.
Most tender was Brian holding his hand and our laughter with the funeral director that afternoon writing his obituary; my friend Cathy standing off in the back, uncomfortable.
His quiet sleep was most wonderful, most deserved; seeing the men from his lodge that came out for him, so many that do this as routine; an end to the pills and eating cardboard; an end to the slow deterioration and loss of him.
I thought it was another setback, not the end. Really, I should have seen what was happening; his tears the day he left here; his fear at being alone in the world; his confusion of my life with another's; his quietness; his surrender.
Mary Oliver fans probably recognize the format of her poem, "Gratitude", borrowed here without any poetry. I had wanted to write something for my dad yesterday and couldn't, but this poem helped me today to examine my memories of the day he died. Last year I had a little more fun remembering.
a return Visit
10 months ago