Friday, April 3, 2015

My Father is Dying

This morning my Father's ashen, gaunt face was an all-too familiar reminder of my Mother's 14 years ago. Ovarian cancer took her and esophageal cancer is taking him. They say drinking alcohol can cause esophageal cancer so, of the two, I'm more worried about that one.

Three weeks ago the oncologist said he had 6-12 months. At 6am this morning the on-call hospice nurse who came by the house said he has days, maybe a week, tops.

Over the past 3 months I have been able to help fulfill his wish to die at his home, and for that I am grateful. If he makes it to Monday he'll turn 78 years old.

Here's a poem I read this morning that struck me...

Shifting the Sun

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses. May you inherit
his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn't.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.
"Shifting the Sun" by Diana Der-Hovanessian, from Selected Poems. © Sheep Meadow Press, 1994. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

5 comments:

Jen Vaillancourt said...

My sympathies. As your father finds his way on to his next life, I hope you can find some peace in the precious time you are spending with him now. My father-in-law lived out his days in our house and I'm so grateful for that extra time together. That poem is just lovely. May it bring you some comfort during the difficult times ahead.

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Thanks, JV.

Ben Christenson said...

I'm sorry for this difficult time for you. I have fond memories of both your parents. Lovely poem.

Kirk Ahlberg said...

Thanks, Ben. It's good to hear from you and I hope you and your family are doing well.

leah boelman said...

holding your family in my thoughts, Kirk. what a blessing for you both to have this time together.