End zone

Slumped and somnolent,
my father smells
of urine and stasis,

his eyes half-lidded,
his shirt half-buttoned,
his catheter —

part of him now, no
less than the wheelchair–

leaking from
his belly like
a poorly kept secret.

I dream his body
a piñata at a party
no one believes,

an imitation life
waiting to break beneath

the blow of some blind
and ultimate kindness,

the real thing finally
spilling and free —

the boy who gazed stars
through a cardboard tube,

the teenager too skinny
for football, dreaming
the end run into open field

(how the crowd cheers),

the young man who named
and cradled me,

his cloistered heart
and clever mind —

the bright arc of
his particulars,
before captivity.

I dream the honesty
of organic death
too long obstructed,

the end run, finally —
there it is, Dad,
lush turf and daylight —

how you dart through
the opening, fleet
and agile,

head high,
eyes bright, how
you gather speed and

keep going, keep going;
nothing can stop you now

(how the crowd cheers).



  1. As you know, I hold you close in heart daily. Much love.


    1. Thanks, Sis. Though I have some idea of how you miss him, I’m so glad — for him and his family –that your dad’s decline was not protracted.


  2. Tears, Cate. I know it’s a difficult transition to weather.


    1. Thanks, Leah. If it weren’t so darn unnatural ….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pete Names · · Reply

    So true. We need to find a way to let them go.


    1. Indeed. But so many of us collude in this kind of sad, attenuated dying. We lack a culture that embraces — or at least wholly accepts — the natural course of human life and death.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cate – This is so touching, sad, loving, and true all at the same time. It brought tears to my eyes. My dad died in May, and was so very fortunate to leave without the prolonged artificial existence our culture inflicts on so many. He was nearly 97, still living on his own and providing for himself. Though I miss him terribly, I am comforted by the dignity he had right up to the end. … I hope your dad finds that glorious end zone soon. Remember the good times. All the best to you. -Russ


    1. Thank you, Russ. Your sensitivity and caring touches me. I am deeply glad that your father — and you — did not have this experience, that he lived his life as himself until he died.

      My best to you, too. I sure like knowing you’re out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, Cate – I so identify with your perspective of pinata – may the release come soon – I am no fan of prolonged death, especially with those who have lived long and are ready to try a new game. My heart reaches out to yours as letting go is much harder for those of us “left behind” than the one released.


    1. Thanks, Jazz. I’m hoping he finds the opening soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, Cate. This sounds all too familiar. So difficult.


    1. I know you know. Thanks, Bob.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My Mom died 15 years ago, and I’m still finding my way around/through the grief and unanswered questions. Sigh.


        1. There’s a memorable line — I think it’s in the movie “I Never Sang for my Father” — about death not ending a relationship, which goes on in the minds and hearts of loved ones. I’ve found that true.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. This poem is so bitter-sweet. Thank you for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes.


    1. Thank you for your kind response.

      Liked by 1 person

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