Caught In Traffic

Any time I get to thinking I'm deft
Tapping out a clever phrase on keyboard
The word dancer steps up
And puts me quietly in my place.

Awesome. Just awesome.


Posted by jwm at February 17, 2009 10:05 AM


That's my honest - embarrassingly inadequate response.

I think it's something to do with needing to exhale the breath that I wasn't breathing.

Posted by Cathy at February 17, 2009 11:17 AM

I remember the day my grandfather died. I was home, I was doing my student teaching and I was living at home. Dad and mom were gone that weekend, they were taking a load of stuff up north and were due back that day. Grandpa was in a nearby nursing home and I went over to see him. He looked over and thought I was dad, his son. I didn't disagree, I just said I was and that I was there. I stayed with him until he fell asleep.

Then I went home and sat in the kitchen until dad and mom got home. When the door opened I told dad he had to go over right then. Dad went.

Later that night was the phone call. I used to sleep heavy, but that night the phone woke me. I walked to the door of my parent's room and heard dad speak into the phone.

It was all over for his father - farmboy, WWI pilot, dentist, father.

Now, my parents are old but still hale and whole. And I do not sleep heavy, because I wait for that phone call. It can come any time for either.

Posted by Mikey NTH at February 17, 2009 2:17 PM

Powerful stuff. Eloquent.

My post-retirement employment has been in and around assisted living and skilled nursing environments and I know that no one needs to die at home except at their request. In this case, whoever called for an ambulance was not in the loop.

This is a sad portrait of what can happen when final directives are unclear and/or family members are in denial to the point that hospice care never enters the picture. Informed, loving care would have had this man in residential hospice long before he passed.

Posted by John Ballard at February 17, 2009 3:32 PM

More moving than I wanted but as moving as I needed, Gerard.

They had Dad strapped to a table in a cold room, his broken heeart forced to beat by a device as large as an old Japanese transistor radio.

He asked for water but I said I couldn't give it to him.

His heart exploded that night.

Posted by Lance de Boyle at February 17, 2009 6:46 PM

I just had to come back for a second comment. This piece was on my mind all day today. I have witnessed the moment of death, and it's an event that leaves one groping blindly for words to put on the experience. You captured the impossible fusion of beauty and horror shot through with transcendent grace that is the moment of passage from this world. Magnificent work.


Posted by jwm at February 18, 2009 9:50 PM

Read the last chapter of Ecclesiastes, then read the whole thing. As an RN, I've seen hundreds die. The soul lingers much longer than one would expect. Say what ever you need to him (Him). They will both hear it. Of this, I'm as certain as the rising of the sun (Son). God bless you!

Posted by Long Rider at March 4, 2009 4:04 PM

Thank you. I appreciate your kind words.

Posted by vanderleun at March 4, 2009 5:29 PM