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I know I’m not the first, nor the last, to have a parent in a nursing home. Still, it’s a first for me. Dad is in a nursing home. Since the surgical procedure to insert a shunt back in December, Dad has been home for just a fraction of time.
There are a litany of health reasons why he is where he is. I share this because it has been tearing me up. Seeing him as he is has been tough. I want to reach out and hold him up, to give him all of my strength.
Tears stream down my face night after night. Why? Because it’s my Dad. It’s him sitting there. It’s the guy I couldn’t stand to be away from as a boy. Maybe I could walk, but still he’d carry me, because I was his boy, he could, and there was the love that parents know. He was the face I waited to see at the end of the day. The one who spoke and I listened like all other voices were a mere suggestion of sound. The punchline to the jokes that we still tell. The laughter to the soundtrack of life that we all live. Now, words are scarce.
It is him, and he sits there. I sit close. He knows I am there. I know it even if it’s not always so apparent. We visit if you call it that. I come and I go. He stays there. He weeps with dignity, wanting just to be home. He cries when I leave. I cry after I leave, and into the darkness of night. And in an emotional outburst I am currently trying unsuccessfully to self-contain, I write.
I count the time between motion and the command given
Age lets me question this, disability? or simply not driven?
I don’t think it hurts, but I see pain in those baby blues
Fumbling for the things that we don’t even remember to use
Why is it, we learn so late to appreciate these small things?
Maybe we need to remember the joy that the details bring
Health has failed a little more each time it has come calling
Strides get lost because, the standard, it’s always falling
I know where it ends, but where on the path are we?
Better to pray, to trust, I have not the mind to foresee
Time is, time goes, we sit quietly, trapped between our ears
What do you say when the only weight is in yesteryears?
Maybe tomorrow, it’ll be better that day, just because
Even so, I hide a sigh, it’s never better, better than it was
My mind can’t help looking past those eyes into the mirror
What’s to come gets closer but the view isn’t any clearer
Looking for the simplest signs, you need not walk a mile
Just turn up the corners, I know where to find that smile
God knew, delivering precision from an imperfect brain
Many a sermon, and the vision to preach words ordained
The words are locked away now, but their message lives
Cohesion is gone, but we know them by the clues he gives
It’s all there, gravity just fails to hold all of it in place
At times I see the freedom by what’s missing in his face
No matter the pain; in him, there is breath, there is life
I am just the boy, taking cues from my mom, his wife
My eyes close and there they are, not so far away
My lips don’t move but with all my might, I pray
In short, my Dad is in a nursing home. There’s a litany of health reasons why he is where he is. I share this because it has been tearing me up. Tears stream down my face night after night. Why? Because it’s my Dad. It’s him sitting there. It’s the guy I couldn’t stand to be away from as a boy. Maybe I could walk, but still he’d carry me, because I was his boy, and there was love that parents know. He was the face I waited to see at the end of the day. The one who spoke and I listened like all other voices were a mere suggestion of sound. The punchline to the jokes that we still tell. The laughter to the soundtrack of life that we all live. It is him, and he sits there. He knows I am there. I know it even if it’s not always so apparent. We visit if you call it that. I come and I go. He stays there. He cries when I leave. I cry after I leave. And in an emotional outburst I am currently trying unsuccessfully to self-contain, I write.
There’s a hole in the floor, where he sits to stare
Something tells me though, there’s nothing there
His eyes come up to see the source of sound
They tell me he soars from this chair he’s bound
Windows show me their words but lips are still
The empty space in this room silence still does fill
All is calm but the hands holding on to His last words
Pages shake, memory frayed, the message not blurred
Heads are bowed but the prayers are for those here
Wide eyes tell stories long since past my own fears
Lips crack but there’s still no sound, I lean in though
A tear forms, and the quiet pause is all I need to know
Somewhere in the depths of blue, there’s a boy free
I would bring him back if it were only up to me
Connections are hard to make in this space, but we try
There’s sadness, and hurt, but there’s love in those eyes
Senses thrive when the focus narrows to just the one
Time expires today but I know our time’s never really done
I stare but I get lost in the visions where they used to be
I linger in hopes that progress has come down to me
Gentle like the sun’s arc rising to start each new day
A grin lights those eyes and for now, it’s all okay
I get up to leave, he stays, and he wonders why oh why
Away, but never gone, I sit too, I ponder, and I cry
I wasn’t sure she was out there, I wondered whatever I would do.
Then into the room, I peered, my heart jumped, for there, I saw you.
Years from then, it’s all mine, this life with you, my very joy.
A smile from all-time, restoring the warmth in this romantic ole boy.
Are you a parent? Did you have parents? Did someone ever give of themselves toward your betterment in such a way as to change your life? Do you owe anyone for the piece of them they gave, just for you? Have you even thought about this? Should you do something about it? Do you need a push in the right direction?
Well this is what I have come up with, so far.
As time rolls on, the memories start to fade, with their edges frayed, the vibrant colors wash out some, and the family unit bends but doesn’t break. Time removes me from the places where we once went about our daily life knowing only what was there, sheltered in our little world. Distance puts time in between us, even if we want otherwise. What was once just down the hall, now requires a plan, accounting for all. The sweet, trusted security only separated by a flight of stairs, is somewhere in the past, or at least not so easily found, or fast. The supported now strain to support, and one longs for it all, again to be the other way around. Examples ran across our view whether we watched or not, and it seems so many times now, the lesson I forgot. I recall the good, and the things I suppose I want to see, and how much love did it take for it, that way, to be. Then the age added up but the character never changed, just the love and lessons somehow rearranged. No one kept track, as it should be, but from this debt, I hope I never feel free.
We live. Hopefully we love. We wander but never lose center. We look back, I hope, more than we look down. We look ahead, I hope, never disconnected from the past. We help, I hope, remembering from where we came. We make time, I hope, because minutes are fleeting. We linger, I hope, how much has been vested in us. We leave, better than we found, I hope, for that’s how we were taught.
I think on this matter a lot. I wonder at times how much is left in the well. When I take stock I am always astounded at how much more there is to give. It is then that I know how it once felt for those who have come before me. Then if there’s a push I need, a shove I crave; I play this song (Kayla Reeves, TSO) and listen to the emotion that is impossible to keep from spilling over all within earshot. I stir in the message shared amid the words that roll into my own personal movie playing just behind the portals I use to see. And I am reminded that, from this debt, I hope never to be free.
He won the war, in a foreign land
That was no hero, that was my old man
And he came back home, where he met his wife
And he raised his kids, while he made a life
Now he never preached, though he always knew
And we watched him close, just to pick up clues
And sometimes late, in the dead of night
I can see him there, in the pale moon light
I am trying
And I don’t know how
And I don’t know when
But I’ll have to tell him someday
And as for this woman, my father wed
We knew we were loved, with the words unsaid
And when we were young she taught us all to read
And then one by one, she would watch us leave
Never saw her cry, for she hid her tears
As one by one, we would disappear
But of course we’d write, and of course we’d call
Just to hear her voice, whenever we would fall
I am trying
And I don’t know how
And I don’t know when
But I’ll have to tell her someday
So I wrote these words, and I hope they last
For the years have come, and the years have passed
Think of all they gave, think of all the debt
But can’t find a way, to repay them yet
For the days still come, and the debt still mount
And do words unsaid, ever really count
But sometimes still, in the dead of night
I can see them there, in the pale moon light
I am trying
And I don’t know how
And I don’t know when
But I’ll have to tell them someday
It was you I came to see, I chose this to do with my day
In tears, I left, just how much do these troubles weigh
Tone, I can handle some, but I tripped over the string,
The slim grasp of matter from where the words you sling
Love is hard sometimes, but it’s always better than the dark
Where the evil dwell, taking aim to hit their mark
I can’t put myself in your skin, in kindness I visit each time
Are we that close to the end, there’s no telling what we’ll find
Looking for a sliver in the shredded mound left of hope
Measured, I smile, looking for my way along the tightrope
My eyes peer down, lit with love, and warmth inherited
Objective, careful, and with respect, I thought, words merited
Maybe God’s will and the plan in that mind are the same
I know for sure there’s no one across from you to blame
So, wearily I’ll lay my head to rest long after the sun has set
Thinking on you, my last thoughts long for your rest, you can bet