July night, for Russell

A personal piece today.

Out at night I see fireflies
blinking tiny living dots of light.
I hardly believe them
here I my own dark front yard.

I remember as a child
when I was back home in Iowa
how we caught lightning bugs
put them in a jar,
then of course, let them go.

Tonight I remember
for some reason
the months in his Alzheimer’s
when my father used to telephone –
four, five, six times a day,
saying the same thing.

How tired I was of it —
so tired I hated the ring of the phone.

Of course, there were many phases
of this illness
that came later,
long, long after dialing
was a thing his fingers could not do.

There were angry months,
fearful ones, too —
nights with the bad dreams of Dachau,
of a lynching he once saw
when he was a child,
got out of the house, climbed a tree.

There was losing control of his bowels,
losing his sight,
the indignity of the walker.

Near the end, he forgot even his tall tales,
and at the last
he forgot how to talk.

Another firefly shines and vanishes.
My cell phone rings —
I wish I could hear his voice.

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7 Responses to July night, for Russell

  1. kranerde@aol.com says:

    Good Morning Maren ~ We never stop grieving the loss of our dads…thank you for this morning’s words…it will be 27 years on August 6…he died at York Beach…God made sure I was there that day. Thank you, Lord, for our Dads.

  2. BodaciousB says:

    What a beautiful piece, Maren! May your memories of happier times bring you comfort, even as fleeting as the flash of a firefly.

  3. So, so moving. And true, and loving, even in the horror details. He faced so many terrible things in life, and despite some details, faced them bravely. This was the worst, I think. And I remember how, at the beginning of this, when I tried to persuade him to move nearer to you, he talked instead of moving back to Iowa. Back to those memories he had found magical there, and back to the strong man he had been, and left behind.

  4. Pam Spain says:

    So sad Maren! But a wonderful tribute to him! The difficulties of aging – for our parents and for ourselves as adults loving and supporting them.

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