C is for Childhood, anointing purity thereof

Granddaughter holding grandfather, Hayward, CA.

A month’s daily output here has been dramatically interceded upon by a marked jolt to my Pops’ biographical timeline, in the form of another stroke. He has surprised us by being the proverbial Eveready bunny after past setbacks.

Not so, this time.

This afternoon, my daughter took his hand in hers (first holding it alongside my hand, and then taking it into both her own). For minutes upon minutes on end, she stroked the back of his hand, and then his forearm. Put her soft-soft nine-year-old girl cheek against his hand. All the while, smiling at him radiantly, deeply. As if she knew something he and I didn’t quite.  We both looked on in wonder.

(By way of explanation to the children: “Think of DadDad as a magnificent castle, and room by room –  sometimes a whole wing at a time –the lights are going out.”)

Later I read to him from poems I thought he might remember, he of the generation who was schooled to memorize the greats. (I love Mary Oliver, but she is his contemporary, no one he put to memory as a schoolboy in knickers.)

I read and he listened, rapt, though more or less speechless, as he has been, essentially, since Thursday night. Whether the words engaged or a memory of the musical sound of rhythmic speech, I don’t know. Coleridge, Keats, Shelly each had something to offer. Blake’s “The Tiger” seemed familiar. But Walt Whitman’s “Sleepers” touched, his one good eye told me so. A global meandering, precursor to the travels he may soon take up.

I stay a while away O night, but I return to you again and love you.

Why should I be afraid to trust myself to you?
I am not afraid, I have been well brought forward by you,
I love the rich running day, but I do not desert her in whom I lay so long,
I know not how I came of you and I know not where I go with you, but
I know I came well and shall go well.

I will stop only a time with the night, and rise betimes,
I will duly pass the day O my mother, and duly return to you.


5 thoughts on “C is for Childhood, anointing purity thereof”

  1. When I saw that you were taking a twitter break, I wondered whether your dad was OK. I’m so sorry he’s had a stroke….but glad to know that you are surrounding him (and each other) with words, love, gentle touches. I’ll be carrying all of you in my heart.

    I’ve told you before that your dad is one of my favorite people I’ve never met, and I’m thinking now of a photo you posted during the Prop 8 campaign, of your dad wearing his Amor Vincit Omnia tshirt, or his story of being the only one wearing a necktie on the demonstrating corner. Seeing his smile in a photo from your City Hall wedding. Looking at some many photos of him and your kids. Such a simple, lovely thing, to see someone growing, changing, connecting with his family. Makes me smile every time.

    So wishing you all a little laughter, a lot of love, and much peaceful company as you keep company with your dad on his journey. His friends in the computer are holding vigil from afar.

  2. Two tears fell down my cheeks when I read this. I am already missing your dad. I have thought so highly of him, all these years I have been lucky enough to find your writing. Keeping you close at mind.

  3. Oh Polly… you said it so perfectly. “a magnificent castle, and room by room – sometimes a whole wing at a time –the lights are going out”

    I am thinking of you and your family.

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