Archive for Cancer

Poetry and the Olympics: Remembering Papa II

I’ll have to leave the coverage of the Olympics to attend a birthday party tonight. Thanks to the DVR, we get to do it all.

Writing about Papa earlier, and thinking about birthday parties, I was reminded of another poem I wrote for and about him.  So here it is…

April

February, new doc said “tests.”
March, we knew for sure.
April, it began to sink in.

May was busy with party preparations.
June was his 75th. The invitation read
(And I kid you not), “…if he lasts that long.”

He insisted, and it was his party.
It was a grand one, but not too grand:
Bombay Sapphire Gin, but only on the first round.

Some came because they knew the news.
Some didn’t come for the same reason.
Some didn’t know until they came and saw him bald.

He surprised us.
Made up with his sister,
Had no nausea. “Blessings.”

Then came radiation
Burns. Aspirated lungs,
Not a blessing.

So excruciating, in fact, that
He reported
The technician.

July, more treatments.
August, they were supposed to be over.
September, they weren’t.

October, his stubborn guest had
Settled in, and he
Settled into bed.

For a while, he enjoyed his life
Passing before him, a parade of students, friends, lovers,
Some of them one in the same.

And cousins,
White and black, a fact
Of which he was particularly proud.

He dictated letters to me and
I was surprised. To the recipients he said
“Forgive me?” and “I’m sorry.”

He even wrote my mother,
Admitting she’d been right
All along.

November,
He began losing track and the
Disorientation disturbed him.

December came,
As did my brother,
And then he left us for real.

January, “The coldest day on record,”
We left ashes at the Brinson family
Cemetery, and at the several-times-transplanted

Fig tree. The one
They said wouldn’t live.
Yet still it does.

February and March were filled with
Sorting out – books, letters and why
He did what he did and didn’t do.

April, it began
To sink in, again.
For real.

Laura Overstreet Biering, Copyright, 020610

Poetry and the Olympics: Remembering Papa

I missed writing yesterday – it just slipped my mind – does that ever happen to you?

So today, there’ll be two posts!  The first of which is in memory of my father.  Papa was never an athlete.  He was, nevertheless, a big fan.  And he loved the Olympics.  He was especially proud of the athletes from Auburn University where he taught, and most especially proud of those who had been his students, including Rowdy Gaines.  So naturally, I am remembering Papa, his last months, in particular…

I Remain

Six years since we heard the word,
Over five since you’ve been gone.
It took you fast,
It took you slow-
Ly. There was no pain
And then only
Pain.
I remain
Thankful

For the unpronouncably-named medications,
The couch in your bedroom
On three legs and a brick,
The place I supposedly slept,
And from which I listened to each gurgling breath,
Wondering, worrying, hoping, feeling
Guilty as hell.
I remain
Thankful

That there were cousins,
Some of them not-even-really
Cousins, bringing bread pudding,
Sharing in your care,
Nursing you in ways I could not, would not.
Thankful that you’d splurged
On the electronically-bending bed,
Purchased for pleasure, not knowing at the time
The need around the bend.
I remain
Not thankful

At all
For hospice
Not helpful
At all
In the end.

Damn them.

 

Laura Overstreet Biering, Copyright March, 2011