Thursday, February 16, 2012

His Eyes Were Serenely Blue

Hospital walls glow sickly mint-green
Late afternoon sunshine slants sneaky shadows
Across dirty tile floors; floors I’d expect to find clean
Spotlessly sterile in fact in this environment
This long, broad hallway is filled with light
And hilliness, slopes, inclines

My father, dressed in brown, a sienna brown suit
I’ve never seen before, has just finished hugging me;
I am reeling, faint with it ...

He rarely hugged anyone—not even me, his favourite—
As I stand in the basin of the slopes, I watch Dad pivot,
Then walk hurriedly up the incline going away from me
When he reaches the top, he turns

His eyes are clear, serenely blue
There is no pain there, it’s plain
He smiles broadly, waves at me
I muster up my own smile and wave back
Grinning, he turns away sharply,
Walks out of my view

There is something off about this
But I can’t quite put my finger on it
The niggling remains after I awaken
And all the next day as well
It’s like a name you’re trying to remember,
Or a word you can’t think of
It’ll be “right on the tip of your tongue”
And then - boom - gone, seemingly irretrievable.

It wasn’t until I saw a child struggling
with his crutches later that day, that it finally  hit me
All my life, my Dad, so uncomplaining, it was easy to forget -
Had a pronounced limp;

He’d been severely crippled as a child
And in later years, he was slowly resigning himself
To having to use canes and other “assists”,
as he put it.

As fate would have it, lung cancer
put paid to any of those notions
Dad had more to worry about than
walking sticks, when he got sick

And he was in so much pain
in such a short period of time
He didn’t do much moving at all
in the few months left, after his diagnosis
The issue of pain management
was the only thing that mattered at the end
And his trouble getting around became part
of his history, by the time he died.

But in my dream, Dad was vital again,
and he was walking tall, striding really
and with no sign of a limp, no hesitation
to his step even

I rewound the dream-reel in my mind,
picturing him pivoting and strolling
briskly up the incline of the hospital hallway
Then turning abruptly at the top,
smiling widely — he was inordinately proud
of keeping all his own teeth—
I thought that’s what the smile was about...

Ah, but, his eyes were so serenely blue
As he waved good-bye to me
—of course, I should have seen it—
Not only was he pain-free,
he could walk normally, briskly
Probably run if he chose to;
I like to think he was off to some rink
to try out ice-skating.
He’d always wanted to.


 This poem is based on an actual dream that I had about a year after my Dad died, and most of the details are true. His hip was broken when he was six years old by kids giving him the “royal bumps” at his birthday party. The break wasn’t discovered for almost a week (I cannot imagine the pain!)when my Grandmother was helping him bathe,  and consequently, he spent the next four years in a body cast and in the hospital. He was told he would never walk again, never even tie his shoes, in fact, he would never likely do much of anything. He became a determined, patient little man, probably the most patient person I ever knew. As far as I know, the only thing he couldn’t do was ice-skate - and still, he taught both my brother and I how to do that as well.  Yes, he’s one of my personal heroes, and I still miss him greatly, almost seventeen years after his death.

*photo - my Dad's namesake and great-grandson, also with serenely blue eyes, who he unfortunately never got to be meet 


  1. That is a very moving and very natural account and, I guess, very brave.

    1. Thank you - my Dad was one of the bravest people I've ever known and one of the most inspiring ... I'm glad you liked the poem and appreciate you reading and commenting.

  2. wow what a warms my heart that your dad is your hero and makes me smile...he had some overcoming to do there...esp like your close....i imagine maybe he is...smiles....

    1. Thanks Brian - yeah, it makes me happy that my Dad's still one of my biggest heroes ... makes me really happy that my husband is also my daughters' hero as well (for different reasons of course but it was a great tradition to follow)Glad you came, read and commented; thanks again.

  3. What a beautiful and well told story! A wonderful tribute to your hero!

    1. Thanks you Charles - it's a story I never tire of telling so I'm glad you liked it ...

  4. Wow, S.E. This just gave me the chills. For me, I believe it's such a gift to have a visit in a dream like that. I've had a few myself and as a hospice nurse, have heard of many more. this is beautiful and I love that you used that beautiful baby's picture. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Victoria - I think it's a gift to have dreams like this also; I like to think my Dad can see the baby from where he is ...

  5. Wonderful story, amazing dream. I think they tell us stuff, as here, that we may have forgotten or that will bring to light something we hide from ourselves. This dream of your father, your hero, obviously healed a sorrow and sowed hope in your life. Just in the telling, I could hear how much joy you gained from it.

  6. Thanks so much Charles - your comments show real insight; I felt healed both by the dream and by the writing of the poem ... I'm glad you could tell