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I am strong (?)
Posted: Monday, May 31, 2021 11:53 PM
Joined: 5/31/2021
Posts: 6

Dad, I think about what you are going through,
And I wonder if you really know anymore.
I remember how you feared ending up like this, like your mom.
But I stay strong, not because I want to, but because I have to.

Your grandson asks if I am going to end up like you.
I don't know what to say, Yes? No? Maybe? What is it?
I tell him not to worry, and that you are sick, but still love him.
So I stay strong, not because I have to, but because I want to.

I keep my feelings inside most of the time.
I don't dare let them see me cry or show pain.
We are supposed to pillars of strength, but it hurts.
But I stay strong, not because I want to, but because I have to.

I hope you will last until my graduation, first kid to make it this far.
Mom passed right after I got accepted, she was so proud.
I know you won't recognize it, but I want to give you my diploma.
So I stay strong, not because I have to, but because I want to.

When you pass, I don't know if I will feel grief or relief,
But I do know I will have to show a strong front,
For my sisters, for my wife, for my son, I have a strong front
Because I have to, because I want to, I am strong (but am I strong?)

Posted: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 10:48 PM
Joined: 9/8/2017
Posts: 2339

Lovely poem Tinman. And I wish for you the best. Congrats.
Posted: Friday, June 4, 2021 1:15 PM
Joined: 1/23/2017
Posts: 1321

I just today read your poem, Tinman, and it is indeed a beautiful piece. It reminds me of a story in our family.

My brother and I had always thought, growing up, that our dad had been in college, but when he met our mom - divorced, with 3 kids - he had dropped out and started working to support his new ( and instant ) family.

Well, as it turns out, only part of that was true. He did fall head over heels for our mom when he met her, but the college part - well - we had that all wrong. Dad died in 2008, and when our mom died in 2017, my brother and I were going through her things, when low and behold, here was this stiff cardboard tube addressed to our dad when he was living with his parents.

The return address said University of California, Berkeley. What could this be ? We opened it up, to discover his BA degree in journalism.

All those years and we never even suspected.

Stay strong, Tinman. You will be the keeper of his memories.

Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 5:45 PM
Joined: 5/31/2021
Posts: 6

My father is now complete, no longer of two minds. I received the call from hospice last Wed night that it was time for him to go. They did not anticipate him making it past the night. I was already due to arrive on Saturday from taking care of the in-laws and other tasks but immediately changed my ticket to the soonest I could, the next morning.

I arrived by is side at 9:40am Thursday. Told him to hold on and wait until the Sunday service and that one daughter was arriving that day, the next day the other two daughters will arrive and on Saturday his daughter-in-law and grandson will arrive. If he makes it to Sunday, everybody would've had a chance to say what they needed. He held on. Everybody arrived and got to tell him they love him.

All weekend, we played the old hymns on the laptop which he loved. Friday he even raised his hands in praise and mumbled along with a few songs. It was THE rebound I was dreading. Saturday he did not move much at all.

On the first nights, we left late at night and went back to my house to sleep; however, on Saturday night I did not feel I should leave his side. I finally felt relief that my wife showed up to say goodbye in person (which she missed by 8 minutes for my mom) and could lead my sister's home but I felt that God did not want me to leave. I pulled a chair up next to his bed, grabbed his hand and held it all night.

At 8:20 am Sunday morning he took his last breath while I held his hand.

We do not mourn the dead, we celebrate their life. My dad heard me ask him to hold on, so he did. He made it to Sunday. He left this world holding my hand and entered Heaven holding my mom's. I know that he had front row seats for that Sunday service, belting his heart out in songs of praise while standing next to his wife.

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Posted: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 5:49 PM
Joined: 5/31/2021
Posts: 6

Thank you very much for the supportive posts. I wish I had found this forum a while ago. I was very lucky to find a Memory Care center that was affordable for him and really worked hard to take care of him, even when he was aggressive and combative. In the L.A. area, I would highly recommend Valley Vista Senior Living.
Posted: Saturday, June 12, 2021 8:02 AM
Joined: 3/23/2021
Posts: 2

Beautiful, thank you for sharing.


Posted: Friday, June 18, 2021 12:31 PM
Joined: 6/18/2021
Posts: 1

 San Francisco 1989

I love this city because of my dad. He knows every inch of it and walks the sidewalks with a gait of confident familiarity. The broad smile never fades as he gives me a running commentary of each point of interest as we come across it; why it was built and who built it all while peppering in the names of famous people I’ve heard of who lived/worked there. Little stories illustrating their personalities trot alongside his index finger showing me where they preferred to get their coffee (“Just down the street- it was good enough for Maurice Chevalier- so let’s see if we like it.”) The history of the shipping district, Nob Hill, and Height Ashbury is painted in vivid color for me as he points out cultural and architectural milestones.  We always take a random trolly during these urban expeditions and hopping off 15 blocks from our destination is just fine with my dad. With a tone of seriousness he says to me: “To really understand a city you need to walk it- and I want you to understand this city.” With him at my elbow, my 11 year old self is beginning to understand and his pride in me is all I will ever need. 

San Francisco 1994

My mother is furious. We have been waiting at the entrance to a private wedding reception at the Fairmont for nearly an hour. My father wandered in and hasn’t been seen since. Apparently he was not stopped by the security but we were. While I hover near the doorway he walks by with two men in expensive suits and their dates. I wave frantically and when he sees me he beckons with his hand but a look of genuine confusion passes over his face when I point to the security as I call to my mother. When he emerges she speaks sharply to him but he is supremely unperturbed, and the bride (who none of us laid eyes on until today) approaches their whispered conversation to say that if we are with him we are most welcome to come in, have a drink and enjoy ourselves. My mother politely declines, wishes her well and we leave. My father and I share a secret smile. 

San Francisco 1999

My 21st birthday and my parents have chosen to invite my boyfriend to San Francisco with us for the celebration. My dad’s enthusiasm to introduce him to our favorite city is palpable. We go an hour out of our way so we can cross the Golden Gate into the city at his insistence; he says it’s the most memorable way to see it for the first time. Three hours later my boyfriend is enjoying his first Mai Tai over the sunset at the top of the Mark; one of our favorite views. Later on as we go from the Fairmont to the Franciscan to the Garden hotels (one drink per bar and then we walk to another one- dad’s maxim) I can see a transformation breaking across my boyfriend’s face; the world has been expanded for this young man from the wrong side of the tracks and he will never look at things quite the same way again. I know exactly how he feels. With my dad in San Francisco, you can never be lost and a walk down the street is a tangible lesson in history. Not the stuffy kind you learn about in books- instead I am gifted little snippets of information about the personalities who made this city what became and it’s real to me in way that books never are. We get a drink at the Irish sports bar Joe Dimaggio owned, another at Ernie’s, and we finally stop to eat at the Sportsman; not as famous as it once was but the Alfredo sauce is without compare, and it still looks exactly the same: a tiny, motley room where you are likely to be sharing a table with strangers if your party is a small one. My dad loves this; he is such a good listener and so interesting in his own right he never leaves situations like this without an invitation to a house dinner party and/or regrets expressed that he lives so far away. 

San Francisco 2017

Everything is different now, and it’s not just because this city has become a gentrified monstrosity where the Teslas go to breed. I help my father out of my husband’s car and he slowly shuffles to the entrance of the hotel my mother chose for him. It’s next door to the wedding he is attending tomorrow and there is little chance of him getting lost. All his friends know about the brain damage and subsequent transformation of his personality and have me on speed dial if I’m needed. I’m staying at the cheaper place up the street. He looks nervous and overwhelmed by the city; like he’d rather not be here...this realization hits me like a box on the ear and I don’t immediately know why. I’m supposed to have accustomed myself to these types of things; it’s been 5 years since the cardiac arrest. The reason dawns on me a few seconds later. Until now this city and its memories have remained separate from the reality my mother and I have to live every day. I tuck that away and depart to get checked in myself. Later on as we walk to dinner I keep a sharp eye on the feet that once traversed these sidewalks with such aptitude; they are hesitant and unsteady now so I keep close. The crowd overwhelms him in the restaurant but he won’t go someplace quieter where he can try to keep track of our conversation. As with every aspect of his life since the cardiac arrest he would prefer to pretend that he and the city are just as they ever were- even as he keeps asking me when we can go home. I didn’t need proof that I don’t know this man, but that’s what keeps me company as we walk the streets of San Francisco for the last time together. He doesn’t remember anything we did here but vaguely enjoys me trying to remind him. I keep wondering why it doesn’t hurt more and then I remember what we’ve been though the past few years. The kind, witty, incredible man who raised me is gone and in his place is an angry shell of a man I don’t recognize who will not accept or acknowledge what has happened to him. His new limitations are not his problem because they don’t exist to him. They’re our problem. This was his worst fear- he told me so more than once. That he would take marvelous care of his body (which he did) but it would outlast his mind and he would cause hardship to his family. And here we all are. Come full circle- in San Francisco. 

I do not tell you these things because I am fishing for your pity. I choke on your pity. I am telling you this because there are fathers and daughters reading my words and have something to say to you: Take nothing for granted. It is all so less permanent than you could ever imagine. There are worse things than death and if you’re fortunate you will never have to lock eyes with them. But if you are not fortunate; if you must watch a person you love get washed away like a sand castle at high tide...lock a piece of happiness away to cling to in the darkness. Mine is in San Francisco where in my mind’s eye a wide-eyed little girl and her father will always be walking side by side exploring the wonders of the city together. 

Posted: Saturday, June 19, 2021 10:58 AM
Joined: 1/23/2017
Posts: 1321

Oh Vate, your post did indeed bring back some memories for me. My dad worked in San Francisco for probably 35 years or more, even though we lived in Oakland. I remember hearing how he would walk during his lunch hour. Up the hills and down the hills - in his suit and tie, no less !

When I was in grade school, they used to send us home with some kind of form ( I believe it had something to do with how the schools would get their federal funding, ) and my dad would fill it out,  giving his work address as " 200 Mills Building. "  I would always be scared I would get in trouble, because in my young mind, an address had to have a street name. He would laugh and then write in the name of the street.

Funny, I never liked SF much. As a boy, and then later as a young man, I never seemed able to navigate the plethora of one-way streets.  Now that I live in Oregon, alone since the passing of my beloved Barbara, most memories of San Francisco have faded into the distance.

Thanks so much for sharing your recollections, and allowing me to to recall my own.



Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2021 9:41 PM
Joined: 9/15/2020
Posts: 35

Your fathers was blessed to have a child like you.  You stayed with him during a time that many children would have ignored and just waited until it was "over". Thank you for sharing.