Monday, November 23, 2015

DAD'S 1983 DEATH--A LONG TIME AGO, BUT IN SOME WAYS EVER PRESENT




To be the lone dissenter in a "do not resuscitate" order–that's one place where one's voice counts. That was the situation when my father was in the hospital after what seemed to be a terminal event.

My ever-kind baby brother disagreed with my position of lone dissenter who was not ready to give up on dad. I understood where he was coming from when he said, "Would you want your last memory to be of someone frantically pounding on your chest?" No, but if it turned out not to be my last memory--that I would live to have a few more--I might be grateful for that.

In dad's case, the cardiac arrest situation fortunately did not present itself, and we did get an important two-and-a-half more months of vital memories.

Was the disagreement over whether to resuscitate part of the drama of the eldest child – which tends to include certain reservations about sharing?

As I continue to try to focus, develop and print this "picture" that is autobiography, what I see is the need to stand back from it, to gain perspective. The apparent dilemma between living and writing about life may be an illusion. A chimera. An ill-focused shot. It's a question of knowing where to put the focal point.
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THE AUTOPSY REPORT VERSUS "DON'T YOU WANT TO SEE HIM?"

These recollections remind me of the day we all knew would come: one of the private duty nurses calls from the hospital to say that dad is gone. She's upset that this happened on her watch, and has taken great care to arrange things, including him, for our final visit. We hear the further dismay in her voice as we say, "No, we won't be coming today." "But don't you want to see him?" she says, incredulously, not realizing that he's not there.

I do, however, want to see the autopsy report, even though I know he's not there, either. I write a poem about it. That's where I think he is.
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FLASH FORWARD 32 YEARS

In wondering why I am writing about this now, it occurs to me that our mom has made it to 91 with her sense of humor, independence and marbles intact. I am hoping that if there are hard decisions ahead, they will be far in the future, and that we will all be in agreement.



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