Prodigal son

When Dad died
+++I could
+++let him go
we had gone to McDonald’s
Double cheeseburger,
+++shake, and fries.

Watching him
+++climb on the exercise bike
+++as soon as we
+++got back
+++to the nursing home,
I saw him at peace
+++with himself.

Dad's 90th with dog

A long, deep hug
+++on parting;
+++all of my
Lifelong questions
+++for him
+++left unanswered.


Image: “Dad on his 90th birthday,” by Margaret Ellen Jay (6/23/2012).

2 comments On Prodigal son

  • I love this poem. We went this summer to visit my dying brother. We took him on two hikes to his favorite places, to the monastery he so loved, and to a beer garden in the city square. As we left he seemed at peace and he died soon thereafter. Thank you for this.

    • Thanks for this. The poem came out of the blue as I was reading an article about Buddhist chaplaincy to the dying in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. I suddenly remembered that Dad’s dissertation for his pastoral care and counseling Ph.D. was on how one’s own comfort in dealing with death affects one’s ability to counsel others. Dad had private personal troubles which he was never able to share with us; this led him to keep distant from me for most of my adult life. Only in his final decade or so did we become close. What made the difference? I let go of needing answers to those “lifelong questions.” Blessings, Mike

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