Dad

The doctor’s last count was seven.

Each stroke leaving in its wake

a little less Dad.

Less motivation.

Less vision.

Less presence.

Then he lost his license.

So Dad just sat.

Eventually losing sight

of all that made him tick.

Gave him purpose.

He was good at.

I watched the frustration

when things weren’t clicking

in his once playful eyes,

in his quick and clever mind,

and quietly mourned

the lengthening shadow

that would smother such strong light;

turning weaknesses upon himself,

and others.

The shadow strengthened,

as the once powerful figure

could no longer focus.

Spent the days crying.

The nights wandering.

His underpants,

soiling.

Conversations were now repetitions,

driven by a series of questions

he’d ask again and again

and again.

Always about family,

living and dead.

No steering away

from this endless thread.

But it’s all that remained

as he struggled for thoughts.

For words.

For himself.

The bygone body, swaggering and bold,

began to weaken,

and wither,

and fold

from all those years of sitting.

Doing hours and hours of nothing.

While cherished faces,

and times and places,

steadily stepped into the dark.

Rare became the instants

during my brief, long-distance visits,

when I saw that certain twinkle in his eyes.

When he was pleased,

about to be silly –

or incredibly Dad.

But then

alas

it would pass

and entered this man, instead.

The only thing constant

was his wheezy, cartoon laughter

which he easily summoned

to the great relief of everyone

hovering uncomfortably in his small, sad room

scattered with pictures of loved ones –

now mostly strangers.

Rarest was hearing the voice of his past,

which sang in my ear

when he used my pet name.

Summoned forth in fugitive instants.

Clear and compelling.

Making me unexpectedly ache,

and anxious

to hear Dad speak again.

But Dad never did.

Yet in that flash,

in his strong, familiar voice,

he was my beacon,

my banker

my mentor,

my tormentor,

My father.

And everything felt right.

Then it didn’t.

And I cursed myself

for not plucking from the ether

that all-too-brief moment

to stuff deep within my pockets.

and help me remember

his long and strong hugs

of immeasurable comfort.

His powerful presence.

His stubborn dreaming.

His cocky, foolish, bridge-burning scheming.

The maestro of his successes

and Master of his failures.

But grateful for the moments

we spoke about nothing

and I apologized for everything.

Though he wouldn’t remember anything.

But love is in the giving.

In the times he heard,

I love you.

So, I told him different stories

about faraway lives,

and in between the questions

and his uncontrolled emotions,

I‘d try to fill the ether

with soon forgotten memories.

With love and laughter.

And strong hugs

of immeasurable comfort.

Author: Anne Celano Frohna

I have been writing for as long as I could hold a pencil in hand and would not feel complete without it. And I actually made a meager living at it (and as an editor) for 25 years. I worked for newspapers and magazines, in graphic arts and advertising, and wrote several local history books. But I have also taught English in Japan, been a Nanny in Italy, worked in and for museums, was an Airbnb Superhost for four years, as well as an Etsy shop owner where I sold vintage items I found over the years of thrift and yard sales. After moving to Arizona with my family in 2010, I completed a series of different writing projects, including two books of creative non-fiction: Just West of the Midwest: a comedy (Based on journals I kept during my two years as an English teacher in rural Japan.) Within Close Range: short stories of an American Childhood (Short stories and poems about growing up as the middle of five children in suburban Chicago.) I've also written children's stories and continue to write short fiction, but have recently found my voice in poetry. This blog, however, is where my greatest passion comes alive. I am also a mother of two wonderful girls, Eva (23) and Sophia (21) and wife to one wonderful husband, Kurt.

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