Run, Chase, Laugh   4 comments

Run, Chase, and Laugh

After your second parent dies, it changes your place in the world, not that anyone else notices, because they are busy not losing their own place for this or other reasons. But it feels to me like I am standing on the top of a mountain looking down on both sides. I know how fast those fat little babies will be leggy teenagers, and now I know that death is not nearly as distant a place as I had imagined up to now. I have been present with two people when they died. My first experience was two years ago with my mother, and it  was amazing, heartbreaking, and a last gift, mine to her and hers to me. The second time, I understood that dying is a process, different for each person,  fascinating, and difficult as laboring to give birth. A couple of weeks before my father died, he said, “I’ve always been able to get out of anywhere I needed to.” And he did.

He died on September 28th, and a few days before that when I knew the end was coming, but he was not “actively dying” (a term I know much more about now) I bought paint to touch up the metal on the awnings outside. While I painted on that perfect September day, I felt gratitude for both my parents. They did their best or their near-best, and here I am, living in the moment, in the sun, in the world. There is no place in this moment for regret or blame, just gratitude for both of them, an unlikely pairing of personalities who had five imperfect children who care so much for each other that these parents did something right.

While I stand on my mountain looking at each side of the slope, I think of both of my parent’s funerals. My mother’s was so painful, my grief so intense, I barely recall the mass or the priest’s words, but I do remember the clouds separating at the cemetery and the eagles we saw on the way to my sister’s house afterwards. I am told there were eagles at the cemetery for dad, and I do remember large birds as we left, but my mind was elsewhere. My dad always loved the babies, and at Dad’s service, it is those little great-grandkids of his that I will remember. Five-year-old Curtis in the first pew, nodding in agreement, and saying yes to the minister’s words about good memories. Curtis who enters any room with polite greetings like he’s a middle-aged man, but with eyes ready for the wonders of living. He sang along to King of The Road with Roger Miller and a few others. It was the last song played at the funeral. Eight-year-old Jared crying hard before the service started. He recently lost his lifetime pet, Sadie, and understands the emotional loss of what “forever” really means.  When the minister read funny memories about Grandpa, Ava who is almost three, used her best and loudest fake laughter to join in with everyone else. Baby Monica sat behind my partner Ed. She spent the funeral time feeling Ed’s arm, squeezing it with her little fingers, checking out the feel of bone under cloth, learning, testing, discovering more information to store away in her gathering mind. And best of all was three-year-old Eli, who had been still and quiet for so long, breaking loose at the cemetery and running across the land of tombstones, touching some, squealing as his embarrassed mother chased him. I wish we had all broke loose and ran, the whole group of mourners. I wish we had run and laughed and been chased one last time by our mother, by our father.

Good Bye Dad

This morning’s September sky,

striking as a blue-eyed dog,

is the day we say good-bye to you.

Your once strong hands now rest.

Those hands that waved

from the cabs of trucks,

hands that became as soft as aged leather.

Hands that tickled little bellies, pulled

wrenches, patted dogs and buttered

those good homemade rolls

will wave no more to us,

but we will remember

their young strength

and their softness later.

Somewhere tonight a dog will raise his muzzle

and howl because you have gone.

And somewhere a father will sing,

“Hey Good Lookin’

“I got a hot-rod Ford and a two-dollar bill
And I know a spot right over the hill.
There’s soda pop and the dancin’s free,
so if you wanna have fun come along with me.
Hey, good lookin’,
Whatcha got cookin’?
How’s about cookin’ somethin’ up with me?”

And the child will smile at their dad,

and remember the songs of his life.


Posted October 10, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Essays, Have a Chair

4 responses to “Run, Chase, Laugh

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  1. Mary, thank you for sharing these tidbits about your father. I had hoped to make it over to Bridgeport for the funeral, but was unable to do so. I pray blessings for his relief from suffering, and comfort in your grieving.



  2. Thanks Mary


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