Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vigil

flowers in a vase. she sits, lost in their purple~yellow petals.

her eyes sparkle, fireworks of wonder dancing in irises.

her mouth opens and closes around the spoon, some food spilling down her chin to the bib around her neck. the spatter reaches further assuring she will need a bath or a change of shirt.

most likely a bath, as the body makes room for more, relieving pent up pressure. the room fills with sweet fecal odor, harsh to the senses.

her eyes only have vacancy for the flowers. is it beauty that attracts? is it life?

i talk to her as the spoon moves mechanically from plate to lip in my fingers, relating to her family stories, as if she might understand and one day remember. she makes a noise, hard, gutteral.

i pretend she is asking questions, more for myself than her.

plate empty, i watch her as she watches the flowers. not for the first time, a prayer escapes on sucessive breathes.

take her. take her. take her.

it is selfish, i know, this  hope for a better end.

my eyes are dry creek beds and i no longer pray for rain in these short days.

my hand finds hers. tracing the parchment skin on the back with my thumb. she once held me, now her loose fingers lay across my palm, unwilling or unable to close.

the shrill squeak of the medication cart wheels marks its progress down the hall behind us.

flowers in a vase. we sit, losing ourselves in their purple~yellow petals.


written for The Tenth Daughter or Memory.

100 comments:

Mighty M said...

Beautiful and sad. I hate getting old. :(

Brian Miller said...

me too...this is old history but still feel those moments at times...

David Allen Waters said...

crying....floods of memory. Both beauty and pain.

Daniel said...

Dang, this was a tough one to go through. Kind of hits too close for my comfort.

happygirl said...

I don't want this for me or someone I love, but I know the reality of possibilities. Harsh truth with a wash of love. Or is it the other way around?

Myrna R. said...

I've been abscent for some time and when I return, you have this poem that pierces my heart because it hits home so closely. Your words are always so honest.

ethelmaepotter! said...

This one is too real...

It is not selfish to wish for the end in such a situation. 'Twould be in the best interest of all involved to just...go. Though death is never easy, it is sometimes a relief...yes, for one's self, but also for the poor soul who sat lost in her own mind.

Ohhhh. Too much, too much.

Which is actually a compliment, of course. To be able to grab our hearts in so few well chosen words is an enviable art.

I'm so sorry for the event that sparked this story. Sadly, many of us will go through the same experience...

Titanium said...

Dignity, in the end, is the better End. You've given her this, with your words, like a soft blanket to cradle cold bones and lost decades.

willfulresemblance said...

wow. rekindles some painful memories. that probably needed to be rekindled.

Shrinky said...

Oh Brian. Disturbingly moving, this is so tragic, and beautifully penned.

Unknown Mami said...

Would that none of us would every have to experience such moments. This one is sad, real, and beautiful.

Pat Hatt said...

Only as old as you feel I guess
But wouldn't want this I confess
Rather go quick when the end does near
harsh truth your words today I fear
Getting me all dark and dreary
I need to go rhyme and get cheery

Heaven said...

Sad and touching...i remember my grandmother in her 70+ (before she died bedridden at a very ripe age of 90+): she wanted to die already while fully conscious and still healthy. She said that her family gene for long life was a curse.

lovely share ~

The Bug said...

I've sort of been down this road with two mothers, so your poem hit pretty close to home. I think "Take her" isn't selfish at all.

Help! Mama Remote... said...

Its hard seeing someone sick or getting older & frail. It seems selfish if we pray for rain or not.

Barbara Shallue said...

So real and beautiful.

Claudia said...

my mom used to work as a nurse in an old people's home and sometimes i went with her and i was quite small then but still remember this sense of decay and the subtle feeling of slow death. i always needed some sunshine when we left and some birds or beagles or whatever - just something that shouted life somehow..

Linda said...

Bitter-sweet Brian. You've written with your heart, and it is beautiful.

Jo Bryant said...

This is so moving - there are many moments that enthralled me - my eyes are dry creek beds and i no longer pray for rain in these short days - simply stunning

Eva Gallant said...

Not selfish at all; I hope that I am taken before I reach that point.

Tom said...

...fireworks of wonder...
good line, sort of encapsulates the whole piece (i originally read irises as the flower/plant--weird, huh?)

kaykuala said...

So poignant and moving.It is sad.I had seen such situations. You just felt like running away from it but just couldn't have the stomach to do so. The surroundings reeked of 'sweet fecal odor' yes, in most cases.The sad thing when it invariably involved someone close. Great story!

hedgewitch said...

This is excellent but so hard to read.Hard to watch, I'm sure too. This was always the greatest fear any of my older relatives had--the way they put it back then, that the mind would go while the body stayed.

Me, I'm just not going to get that old. I've made up my mind. ;_)

colleen said...

Oh, I was seeing a baby -- probably because I have been babysitting my baby grandson. So the ending was a surprise and bittersweet twist.

Always Home and Uncool said...

Wow. Beautiful.

Friko said...

This can only have been written out of experience. No one else would know.

Steve E said...

BABY, I thought also, until you 'related family stories'. Many have experienced what you write here, Brian. Me, too. Also, long ago.

I hope I die riding my scooter, under an eighteen-wheeler which just could not stop.

One might say, "Well, he WAS wearing a helmet, gloves, and boots..."

But THAT is a long way off, Peep!

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

this was so poignant, Brian.
And I instantly recalled feeding my MIL vegetable soup in the hospital over Easter break.
I remember her eyes getting as wide as a baby's when the spoon would draw close.

Heather said...

this made me cry..."she once held me..." so real and so true....really beautiful.

Tina said...

Beautifully tender. Took me back to my Grandma Vivian and her last days. She died a week shy of 98, a year ago 2/25. The vibrant young woman who welcomed this Swedish family to America with a trip to Baskin Robbins at 10 p.m still lives on in my memories. Much easier for me to picture her there, rather just as you described.
Tina @ Life is Good

DJan said...

You have captured it all. I remember that prayer, too, when a loved one was beyond reach. Makes me choke up to think of it...

Bev said...

gosh brian, this really hits home, this i know...i have a lump in my throat. i've lost my mom and my oldest sis, and last week my 83 year old dad was diagnosed with cancer, that has already spread to liver and lung. i have spent many hours this past week thinking of what is to come.
hugs :)

LadyCat said...

This is definetly syncronicity. I was just thinking this afetrnoon of my Mother's eating in her last few days. I remember thinking at the time, that she once fed me and now the tables are turned. Life is a circle, for sure.

william said...

Ah getting old,sadly happens to us all.beautifully put mate.

ayala said...

Sad...I know this too well...getting old is sad when you lose your dignity :(

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"flowers in a vase. we sit, losing ourselves in their purple~yellow petals."

Hi! Brian...
I have to agree with some Of your commenter your words are "powerful," "sad," and very heart-breaking today!
[In the end, if we all live long enough it's a reality we all must face too...I guess that is why your words today have touched a nerve!]

Cont...

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

"her mouth opens and closes around the spoon, some food spilling down her chin to the bib around her neck. the spatter reaches further assuring she will need a bath or a change of shirt..."

By the way,
This quote sounds as if could have been a baby, but it is an elderly lady...It's funny how are lives come full circle and end up almost the same as are beginning(s.)

Thanks, for sharing!
deedee :-(

Magpie said...

Such a touching piece, Brian. The similarities between young and old are striking.

PattiKen said...

Very sad, and very familiar. Less than a year ago, I lived through this, and said that very prayer. I wish I felt that I was as kind as you are in this story. But I don't think I was.

blueviolet said...

That is very, very sad, and brings back some tough memories of loss.

Me said...

My grandmother lived in this very state for way too many years. It is an awful, horrible thing.

Sophia said...

Another well written verse but hard for me to digest at this time of my life...

Tara Miller said...

Your words brought back memories of mom when she went to hospice. I can remember uttering small prayers of "take her" in my heart so she would no longer be in pain. Letting go of someone is never easy. Thank you for your beautiful words love.

Lolamouse said...

This must have been a truly difficult time for you, but you've expressed your love and care for her beautifully.

Vicki Lane said...

Poignant. I've been there -- but with a friend rather than a parent. My husband and I are implementing the Eat More Bacon Plan, hoping for heart attacks rather than Alzheimers.

Christine said...

Very tender words spoken here

laurenmichelleotheim said...

This was so very sad. Your writing and imagery are beautiful and come out so sharp and clear it hurts.

Mijayami said...

You capture every moment beautifully, even when the moments are not perfect. I also love how you come back to the purple-yellow petals. Nicely done.

deb colarossi said...

ah, Brian..
this long time away ,
and then to come back to this very subject.

because we can never go away or be too engaged.

you have been missed , and I am honoured to have the time to go through your posts.

I hope you and your family are well? How is summer so far?

deb colarossi said...

And how are you?

lori said...

Nursing homes have always been really difficult for me to handle. I almost always cry when I leave. My father-in-law is in one now, and it is a hard situation as he has no idea who any of us are. Hard stuff to understand. You capture the difficult emotions well.

Cloudia said...

losing yourselves...




Aloha from Waikiki;


Comfort Spiral

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CM said...

So raw and honest. I think I saw your comment on another blog about when your mother in law passed away, so I'm guessing this is about her. It's never easy.

Margie said...

Now, you made me cry :(
But, so touching!

Rebecca S. said...

We will all get old...and need to be cared for like we did when we were born...full circle. Hopefully there will be someone/s to care for us in a way that gives us dignity. Touching and painfully honest.

Ed Pilolla said...

yes, beautiful and reflective. i also feel this one from the inside. something terribly human about this.

Stranger said...

Heartbreaking, beautiful and painfully familiar.
Stories. eh. Hugs to you, sir.

Hilary said...

Heartbreaking.. and so real. That's such a hard time but you expressed it so tenderly.

farmlady said...

This one was too close... I have no words.

sharplittlepencil said...

Brian, this was heartbreaking and beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. I remember the guilt I felt when I asked God to take my mother. To admit that, to commit it to paper and transmit it to the world, helps reassure others that they are not the only ones. You helped a lot of folks today. Great work. Amy
http://sharplittlepencil.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/deer-one-poetic-bloomings/

lucychili said...

painful

Goofball said...

that's hard

Baino said...

Nice short and sad. Not sure about 'sweet foecal odour' but that could be me.

Edit: Successive breaths

Too common a thing I fear.

Just Be Real said...

Nice although painful Brian. Baths are my favorite. Blessings.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Unflinching. Beautifully put down hard reality. -J

Valerie said...

Tender and sad. As you might have expected the tears arrived whilst reading this. I saw it in a beloved aunt, please God don't let it happen to me.

Lorraine said...

oh Brian ...I have no words...just want that flower to be reached

the walking man said...

At the least you visited when you could and in that you did more than most.

I don't know much about parents and their slow passing it seems as if my own just decided this day was the day and that was that.

ladyfi said...

Oh my goodness... so heart-breaking. And lovely.

wolfsrosebud said...

Truly have been there. My decade ago memory... it like a single flower pooled in a vase. I brought refreshment to my dad as his mind drifted away and I too uttered, "Take him, take him." The time will come. May you be blessed greatly as her son.

Anonymous said...

Everyone says that their spouse is amazing. Do tell...what makes your wife amazing?

Little Ms Blogger said...

my mother is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's. She sits in a wheel chair and doesn't know me. I know from conversations from my youth she would hate where she is today, but she doesn't remember these conversations and now wonder if she's had a change of heart. Watching someone change before your eyes is so difficult. Well written.

-t- said...

sometimes i just don't wanna.
but i do. i must.
i'm glad you do too.

Mama Zen said...

This brought me to tears. Beautifully written, Brian.

Evelyn said...

"my eyes are dry creek beds and i no longer pray for rain in these short days."
thats the time, the good-bye time.
beautiful, Brian.

Fred said...

Well written Brian, brought me memories back from my grandmothers last days, actually months. Lots of memories. Happy and sad, but mainly happy looking back in retrospect. Excellent emotion stirring piece.

drybottomgirl said...

I have missed your writing my friend. You are one of the few people I let in to play with my heart strings of emotions, and this one was really humming. You captured the reality and sadness of dying youth, and yet it is a fact we cannot deny. Excellent...

Tara R. said...

I did not expect that ending. You crafted such a poignant telling of end of days care for a parent. Incredibly moving.

haikulovesongs said...

i was just drying the trickle of tears from your 55 "he's thirteen and..." then i read this. now in the full out ugly cry. i guess it's therapeutic, but damn! you write too well, my friend. my mother's been gone almost four years now...

She Writes said...

This is a really sad one, Brian. Scary to know we can end up in either of their places at some point. Almost too scary to look at.

secret agent woman said...

I do not mind getting older, but I hope to die before this happens to me.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

This is heart wrenching...the reality of it...yet beautiful.

adeeyoyo said...

Oh, God! I live among those temporarily. Some have clear flashes and know what has happened/is happening to them - dreadful... worse to know, I think. Also some who pray to die... Brian you have told this story so well...

alivealwayz said...

her eyes only have vacancy for the flowers, beautiful line, we certainly long for the beautiful moments in life, I fear there just aren't many, greedy it may appear, but the more we have the more we want!

Laura Lynn said...

was this about a loved one? This was so beautiful and so sad. The memories it brought of my grandmother....bringing tears to my eyes. Great piece Brian! Great piece!

JeffScape said...

I like it. Not as effective as your "angry" stuff, but still powerful.

Bimbimbie said...

The long goodbye is the cruelest. As a teenager I saw it steal away my lovely gran and knock the stuffing out of my grandad and parents who cared for her. Thirty plus years and there's still no better ending from it.

Pastor Sharon said...

Dear Lord, Brian, did you get inside my head?

This sounds like a night at the table when I stopped by from work to feed my Mother when she was at the end of the journey with Alzheimer's Disease.

I so feel for people who have to go through this with loved ones. I think the prayer that everyone begins to pray silently is a mantra to God, "take her. take her. please. take her."

Syd said...

So very sad. It will happen to each of us if we live long enough. I am so glad that she related to the flowers. There is something about reading about the old and their vulnerability that makes me sad.

Amanda said...

this touches a painful chord. so much pain and loss packed into mighty words.

and "take her, take her, take her"

yes. i know this.

tracy said...

I met a woman on my trip home whose entire world consists of a sofa in the lower level of her daughter's home. It's where she eats and sleeps. With the help of a walker she can cross the room to use the porta potty. And yet she is so lucky to have a loving daughter who can give her this. So I am going to try and stop whining so much. How long do you think I can do it?

SueAnn said...

Beautifully captured...the vacancy...the loss! So heart-wrenching!
I just love the journeys you take me on!!
Congrats on your POTW
Hugs
SueAnn

Anonymous said...
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Jinksy said...

A POTW with pow of its own...

TexWisGirl said...

painful and poignant.

Bossy Betty said...

How did I miss this one?

Wow. That's all-Wow.

Congrats on your POTW.

Harnett-Hargrove said...

Hey, Brian,
I thought I had commented on this when I was here before ... but I don't 'see' myself.
Life is indeed a zero sum equation. Thoughtfully real.

ds said...

Cannot believe I missed this the first time. Beautiful, powerful, painful.
Congratulations on the POTW (much-deserved) and...I'm sorry.

Out on the prairie said...

Too cool, I have seen this a lot.What a charming tale.

Gary said...

Oh, boy. I started reading this thinking one thing and realized it was about something else. Dang Brian. Heavy.

Congrats on the POTW. I am happy to share that honor with you.