Friday, March 25, 2011

A few thoughts on "Passing"

This post interrupts my normal flow, which is, of course, continually abnormal and sporadic. It is precipitated as I sit in my daughter's living room in Austin next to the wide-open windows in March, the most wonderful time of the year in the hill country of Texas. My near four-year old grandson, Sam, holds sway over all of us, dashing around the house at un-throttled speed, making us all laugh. But this bucolic scene (which is not really bucolic at all, but expresses my feeling more than reality) gives favor to my considering my home in Lebanon, Tennessee and Sam's grandparents.

My mother and father are going through a tough time. One of their closest friends, and my eternal teacher, J.B. Leftwich, has suffered strokes, heart trouble, and now dementia in his waning days. In a moment of clarity while my father was visiting him in rehabilitation center, which it is not for J.B., only a temporary stop, J.B., or as i call him, Coach, told my father he was his best friend. My father at 96 does not have very many old friends left, and i know this is tough on him even though he will not speak of it to me.

So my joy of being with my grandson, daughter, and son-in-law, who for all practical purposes has lost the in-law on his status with me is countered by sadness.

Below are two poems i wrote several years, which reflect my reflections as i sit here in the glory of spring.

Waiting Grace

the old folks sit in the room too warm,
television images blink randomly,
the mute button silences the room
although they do not know as the hearing aids
lie on their respective tables with
paraphernalia required for the elderly;
they sit knowing the time will come soon:
waiting grace.
All is right with the world.
They and the remaining few of their generation
know how to demonstrate
waiting grace.
No threat, no fret, no fear
shows in their continence:
they do what they can and
what they can decreases perceptively almost daily,
faculties fade and with the fading,
the joys of their industry escaping slowly:
waiting grace.
They have endured the test of time when
times were harder and
simpler and
they hold to those codes of right and
simplicity and
goodness to the neighbor, friend and
to service:
waiting grace.

Lebanon, Tennessee
October 22, 2006

Going Quick

Two men, father and son,
hunched over a work bench
a number of years ago;
working on a project quietly
in the glare of the naked bulb
hanging above their heads;
they talked a bit,
focusing on the task at hand,
smiling quietly at the bond
they continued to build;
the old man with thick strong hands said,
“You know, son,
i’ve led a pretty good life,
got three good kids who have grown up well,
some good grandchildren, and
your mother;
‘bout the only thing I hope now
is when I go,
it’ll be quick.”

Bonita, California
June 7, 2008

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