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…
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
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.
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
He began losing track and the
Disorientation disturbed him.
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.
Laura Overstreet Biering, Copyright, 020610