Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Archive for the category “Death”

“Put me down.”

Every year I return home to see my mom.

After a severe stroke three years ago, which had been preceded by a number of TIAs (mini-strokes) over the years beginning in the 1980s, she’s been declining steadily.  We were fortunate to get her driving license away from her about a year back before she’d killed anyone.  The truth be told it was her doctor who was responsible, and everyone who tells how easy it is is talking about someone else’s parent. Last November we got her into a wonderful assisted living facility where despite no longer being able to converse as she had and largely being fixated on three things (money, going out to eat, my room is a cage) she had a certain quality of life.

During the first week of my visit a month ago things went relatively well although I’ll be the first one to admit my mom has never been an easy person to deal with and age combined with cognitive impairment has not helped in this regard.  There was much for me to complain about and complain I did to friends and relatives and whoever was ready for an earful.  The next few days were as pleasant as they have ever been – we went out to eat at a great Italian place with a cousin and aunt, and she even went to the casino (She loves her slots.).  Then Wednesday mid-morning when I was about to go to her place for lunch, I got word she’d had a massive stroke.   The doctors did not think she’d survive. We were forced to put her into a nursing home and into the Rapid Terminal Decline program.

But she has since rebounded.  Her health care directive made it clear that she did not want to be in a nursing home (see title for a direct quote) and considered quality of life to be of the utmost importance.  We are constantly being pushed for therapy, which my sister and I are resisting to the very fiber of our being.

I was reminded of the wonderful film, The Sea Inside.

Sketch 8: Descent

This particular poem deals with an image from my grandmother’s funeral. I’ve always thought smell to be my most acute sense so it’s not surprising that incense should be an important part of my memory. A single smell can easily transport me back in time.

My grandmother was Catholic, and Catholicism was very important to her generation, defining them in a way it never did me. But then again, I lived in different times – a Catholic would soon become president of the United States, and it had been a long time since No Irish Need Apply signs were seen. When I visited relatives in Ireland, and they took me to the rubble that remained of my grandmother’s house, they also brought me to a landmark where Catholics used to secretly meet to worship when the religion had been outlawed. I was asked, “How would your parents feel if you married a Protestant?”

Although titles for me are more often than not a necessary evil, I do like this one and the double meaning of descent.

Death

Death
The rain
like tears
the trees
have shed.

Roots sink
deep
in the fertile
soil.

The Forgotten

The Forgotten
May death not find you
among the forgotten.

The floors you scrubbed,
the laundry washed.

Depression-time men
passed by for work.

You are older now
and frail among
those lined up
in wheelchairs
for the dose
to keep them
docile.

Dig out
the potato root
formed in that
famished land.

May death not find you
among the forgotten.

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