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My Papa

Updated on February 4, 2010

My Papa's been living

a whole lot of years

lots of loving and joy

tinged with

sadness and tears.

he'll be eight decades old

when this May,

flowers bloom

and I hope he's not still

in a hospital room.


He's been clinging to life

with a tenacious grip

beyond all understanding

he just wants one more sip

Like some dried flower husk

gasping for precious drops

of life's dew to rejuvenate

what time wants to stop.


I've watched the years tattoo

his skin mottled with age

bed sores rubbed on his hips

far too long many days

and his bottom flesh ripped

soaked in bodily wastes

and his dry sore cracked lips

drenched in grease covered paste

from an oxygen mask

that helps him keep breathing

in a much needed task

as he's falling to waste.

mingled with the mauve bruises

of I.V. needle drips

a road map to oblivion

at the end of a page.

Yet he struggled on taking

many detours from death

doing most that they  asked

every step of the way.


He went years

without eating

or drinking at all

only fed by some Jevity

without any levity

pumped through

a small tube

into his stomach wall.


But the Docs separated

his esophagus from

his airway ...six hours

before they were done

A difficult surgery

which allowed him to eat

and drink at long last

making mealtimes a treat.


His face was a beaming

toddler savoring that first

lovely bite of sweet chocolate...

then he quenched his long thirst.

I saw hope shining brightly

As he conquered his curse

eating lunch without tubing

and no need to rehearse.


I give thanks to the doctors

and nurses who cared

plus the aides that worked for him

all the help that they shared

He had no hope without them

they deserve utmost praise

for healing his problems

and extending his days.


14 weeks in hospitals

and in nursing homes too

4 times some almost killed him

but he still made it through

Not enough staff, and negligence

hindered his fight

plus plain happenstance

it's an elderly blight.


But he'll be

discharged Monday

not to his home which is

his most sacred Nirvana

which one day will be his.

First he's headed to rehab

where he hopes to start walking

he'll be learning to get up

And re-master his talking.


Motor skills they require

before he's homeward bound

We'll all be there to greet him

Glad that he's still around.


Watching your daddy dying

is not easy you know

he took a long painful path

all across Ohio


Endless hospital rooms

and in two nursing homes

till he was almost nothing

but skin and bones.


Yet he never gave up,

and he seldom gave in.

he had a heart of steel

beneath some very thin skin.


I believe all his struggles

trying to stay alive

might just keep him

here with us

till he's past ninety-five.


Pop believes

most in God

that grants him

bonus points

even though

he's been stuck

in some ungodly joints.


They say faith can

move mountains

I believe that it can

cause I watched

faith breathe life

in one skeletal man.


All he wants is his wife

and his big chair at home,

and a cat he calls Sammy

cause he's been so alone.


98 days in bed

though I came every day

except for a few,

when work called me away.


How those hours

they stretched

with four walls as a friend

as he struggled to breathe

still refusing his end.


It's a place we're all headed

around some distant bend

please make sure

when you get there

you have family and friends.


I 've seen so many people

left alone in their rooms

no one paid them a visit

in their above ground tombs.

Even holidays passing

left them lying alone

sad eyes staring out doorways

wishing they could go home.


All those Elanor Rigby's

and those reclusive men

who would never feel sunshine

on their faces again.


We warehouse our old folks

with sub-standard care

there's not enough money

to keep more staff there.


They're allotted just so much

what's left is despair

and sometimes it's easier

to forget that they're there.


I have seen

many nightmares

that soon I will share

cause we need so much more

of reforming health care.


All those nurses call buttons

can be pushed till your blue

but with so many patients

there's not much they can do.


Most have one

nurse providing

for 12 patients or more

on a shift of eight hours

do the math for each floor.


It's procedure it's budgets

it's all they choose to pay

all those fat cats, and big wigs

who won't suffer such stays.


They'll each have private nurses

answering their beck and call,

with no need for call buttons

blinking down busy halls.


Dad had trouble with breathing

send this record to Guinness,

their response time was dismal

it took twenty-five minutes.


After surgery one week

he lay stuck in his bed

with no food 18 hours

left without his pain meds.

9:00 at night 

till the next day

at about 5:00 p.m

when he scribbled me notes

to get some help for him.


Just some orders from Doctors

without communication

times thousands of hospitals

all across our "great??"  nation.


Folks I do not exaggerate

I've no reason to lie,

there's a lot more I saw

that made me want to cry.


But I can't forget Papa

and his determined stare

So I'm hubbing a portion

of his story to share.


If you've got a sick loved one

in a place like Dad's known

run, don't walk bring them comfort

bring a warm taste of home... one should die alone.


We'll all have to account for

how our folks met their ends

heaven's holding them mansions

where we will meet again.


We must honor our parents

till they reach that far shore,

then we're sure to be welcomed

In a mansion next door,

when we're all called

to join them

as family evermore.





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    • lisadpreston profile image


      8 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      This was moving and touched my heart. I watched my mother die with cancer when she was 39. It has been 20 years and I am still grieving. I brought her home with me to take care of her so that she could avoid a nursing home. My grandmother is 80. I am not sure I will be able to handle it when she passes. Thank you for honoring the elderly. They are societies precious gift and society just throws them away.

    • Artamia profile image


      8 years ago from GTA, Canada

      The Poem dedicated to your Dad, dear MFB III, it is too sad. I read it a few nights ago... but was too painful to write... YES... we have to show our love to our parents and friends and good neighbors when they are able to enjoy it... so they could feel supported and appreciated... and for sure be uplifted by OUR LOVE for them...

      It's amazing how a good kind word/observation or a compliment can make our day... And it's sad also how easy for some is to insult people around... them... at home or at work...

      EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE - WE DIE A LITTLE [Jazz Song]... But when "Goodbye" is to long and painful... brings pain too to survivors... and it's hard 'to wash' it out... Please stay positive and think about your childhood when your Father took you to the Park... or fishing trip... or swimming... Have, bring out sunny memories... and bring Daddy a tape/cd with his favorite song... Because even people who are not able to hear the music... in some ways the sound's waves reach their inner 'ear'...and Soul...

      Courage, my Friend...

      Love & Blessings to You and Your Papa.


    • ladyjane1 profile image


      8 years ago from Texas

      I agree watching your dad dying is not easy. It was the hardest thing I had to do. Moving poem.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Such a sad moving poem :-( wonderfully written MFB

    • pbwriterchick profile image


      8 years ago

      It's a terrible thing! I worked in a nursing home that was cutting corner. I did laundry there (some housekeeping and kitchen work too). I saw alot. The best thing to do is to go every day or at least as much as possible. It's the company, the attention an love they crave the most.. it truly is. Great write, my friend. I hope your father lives to be 103! :)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Not easy to see parents living and leaving like this. I know the feelings all too well. Thoughts with you my friend.

      Love and peace



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