Both Gone

In August 2010, life because sureal as we were faced with something couldn’t change. What made it all the more complicated was that Mum and Dad were foster parents. Living at home they had three teenagers, one of which was severly disabled and two babies under the age of two. Social Services removed the babies at Mum’s request as she and dad were ill. When they passed away, we not only had to clear and sell the house, we had to provide homes for all the children. It wasn’t an easy task while we were all in shock and grieving . This is the story of what happened.

On the 9th August 2010
An ambulance came for mum
Later that day, Dad was taken in
A month of visits had begun

In February of that year
Dad’s eyes turned yellow
No one voiced their fear
As he was relaxed and mellow

After two hospital stays
None of us knew what was wrong
We carried on our normal days
Not knowing t’was his swan song

During my frequent visits to them
I noticed Dad was getting thin
From fifteen stone down to ten
Mum was worried about him

His teeth became too big for his face
His eyes just hollowed out
He was skin and bone, gone to waste
Shocking to see this turnabout

Mum said little, not voicing her fears
Phone calls to her sister were shared
I didn’t know of her secret tears
Or from us the hurt she spared

 Dad smiles always greeted me
He didn’t even acknowledge
What it was I could see
He was such a man of courage

There was a suggestion of cancer
An operation was to follow
Upon further investigation
It just was not possible

He was so poorly when they came
Mum couldn’t bear to be apart
As illness struck her at the same time
The hurt and fear broke my heart

If Dad’s scan showed up clear
They would let him go home
And there were so many tears
When I returned alone

I broke the news to mum
She knew it as she slept
Dad had a few days and some
And at home we all wept

With heavy heart I wanted to cry
My tears I tried to mask
I hugged him as I said goodbye
Not knowing it was to be the last

On September 2nd he passed away
Mum from then went down hill
Always knowing she couldn’t stay
A strong lady, who knew her own will

It was a stroke that did her harm
Although it only played a part
She shortly followed him home
And died of a broken heart.

 

I Wish I Could Remember

by Rose English

 

I wish I could remember
how you bounced me on your knee,
and lifted me up high, to touch the sky
when I was three.

~*~

I wish I could remember
the sound of laughter sweet.
Especially when together
sparkling, shining eyes would meet.

~*~

I wish I could remember,
when we walked upon the sand.
We paddled in the water,
While you gently held my hand.

~*~

But all that I remember
is a smoky grey dull day,
and images in photographs
before God, stole you, away.

~*~

Now the angels share your smile, instead of me.

~*~

 Features in ‘Rainbows & Roses ~ Poetry & Prose’

Copyright © Rose English 2016

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Mum & Dad

 

A Free Spirit

by Lucy Lang

My Dad was a free spirit ~ impossible to pigeon hole.
Hated the rat race and followed his star! Merchant Navy seaman at aged 19. Heavily involved in the Normandy Landings in 1944.
After the war, left for India and basically kept on travelling until the age of 72!! Never settled down!
My sister was born in California and I was born in Kenya, where Dad
worked in tea for over 40 years, travelling all over East Africa. He knew all the words to every song in every musical from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and played harmonica at the drop of a hat.
Dad was a one off original, full of fun and throughout his life, he never conformed to
convention or routine!
That’s Dad in Kenya on the left of the photo with two mates.
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Good Night Dad

 A Eulogy by Toni Kief

 

The four of us have been talking about our memories this week, and I notice that home is wrapped around Bob Kief.  Delray Street in Pekin, Illinois was the childhood everyone kid deserves.  The house was small, but there was plenty of noise and just enough room.  Neighborhood kids played American Bat Ball in the street running from passing cars.  All knowing the man with the banjo and a monkey on his head watched over us and he would often play right along with the gang. We have celebrated the good fortune to have lived in a time and place when there was a community of parents watching each child, keeping us safe and making us fly right.

As the children of a firefighter, we belong to an even more elite group.  Life was more than the challenge of racing our father to the telephone on the first ring.  There was something deep in Dad’s career choices that helped mold each of us into who we are today. I will never forget a nightmare’s scream and my dad running out the front door and down the street in his underwear to save the imagined baby in the bushes.  Once clarity returned, we shared a laugh and our home returned to sleep safe in the security of his presence.

We learned to respect the fear and fragility of life as each of us have stood on the porch and witnessing the sky glow orange from fire.  There was an unspoken worry about when or if he, our Dad, would come home.   The smell of smoke and grit still means relief and the guarantee of another day.

Dad visited every school in Pekin, climbing ladders and teaching fire safety with amazing demonstrations and a showman’s flare.  He joined Mother’s Club at Edison School to take young daughters to a Tea that was crucially important to my eleven-year-old self.  Mom and Dad worked hard and protected us from much of the negativity of everyday life.  We never heard an argument, and will always remember him putting our tiny mother on top of the refrigerator defusing anxiety with unexpected and outrageous good humor.

Each of us has been cradled in his strong arms when we were sick or heartbroken and he sang silly songs relaying a confidence in his children’s individual strength.  He volunteered with Pekin high school athletics and decades later at my class reunion, I was asked repeatedly about my Dad as grey haired men shared cherished memories and lessons that lasted through lifetimes.  He was always destined to be a teacher and we were not only witnesses but also beneficiaries of his legacy and love of education.

Acknowledging the gifts from our extraordinary father, the conversations have gone on for hours fueled by the recurring theme of laughter.  We are irreverent, silly, bold and all agree that we were not only expected to dream but were also gifted with his confidence that we, the children of Bob Kief have the power to accomplish each goal.  Every one of the four is different, Kirk is quiet and the artist, Penny is exuberant and the caregiver.  Kathy appears more serious but has a wicked sense of humor and a passion for animals.  I am the activist and social progressive. Bob Kief is written on each of our faces and his DNA constructs our souls.  We were raised with honesty, loyalty, love and faith in our individual possibilities.

Our children reflect many of the incredible qualities of our father.  His amazing humor continues to a third generation of great grandchildren.  As the oldest, I sit back and see the kaleidoscope of this amazing man’s complex influence.  Each child demonstrates their own brand of humor with a basic honesty that could only have come from one source. My father, our dad, a true original and the man who put the great in great grandfather.

Dad, I want you to rest confidently knowing that there are three generations with more to come that notice the alternative exits at every gathering and will step up with pride of being part of you.  Robert W. Kief, the definition of honor and a genuine good man.   I love you Dad, you will never be forgotten.

Toni is a writer and you can link up with her on Amazon

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Dirty Laundry

by Toni Kief

Like a forgotten man on death row, each day is spent waiting for the inevitable. No longer counting hours, days or months, my existence is trapped in a starless night.  Strange women awaken me each morning for no other reason than to gather dirty laundry.  They roll me, medicate me and pump all my meals through a tube. I have no purpose, no direction, no hope and few dreams, just the passage of time.  All of my control has been relinquished; I can no longer sit, and I don’t recognize my hands in the futile attempt to wipe a tear.  My survival depends on the labor of others; I have no power to stop this ridiculous dance.  No longer blessed with the luxury of movement and conversation, I scream to unhearing ears.  Each hour I’m further separated from who I thought was me.   All my secrets stripped away with the sheets and the humiliation of a lingering death.

My wife, my bride, maintains a dutiful watch for hours extending into years.  She arrives every morning and I hear her soft voice and feel her touch.  She doesn’t know I can hear her clucks and howls in the halls demanding my care.   She has no idea how people dread her arrival while she obsessively battles a lost war.  Please stop my love, I won’t get better.  I won’t be released back to the living.  Even I see your life wasting away in this useless crusade.

Amazingly I have visitors, they talk empty phrases but I hear their hearts.  In their silent eyes they whisper good bye, and pray this doesn’t happen to them.   If I could only speak I would tell them to go and live while there is still life.  Don’t just dream–do.  Occasionally middle aged strangers come to sit next to my bed.  I don’t know who they are, but when I close my eyes to these graying voices their heartfelt words morph into the laughing sound of my children.  The distant memories return as I once again chase and tickle them, each an original with traces of me on their faces.  The word “dad” drifts through and I can see love as that word fills my room with colors.  My eyes open to the helplessness of their ongoing pain that I can’t remove.

Every pleasure of life is gone; even I don’t know why I open my eyes and take the next breath.  I have nothing left but memories and they are fading.  This slow relentless erosion is not my chosen closing scene.  I exist, nothing more.  I have nothing else to say, there are no words are left.  My questions can only be answered by the great equalizer-death.  I blink my eyes trying to project my farewells of love.   Ready to stand on my own two feet; face the resolution of the other side.  One thing I know, mortality is only part of the journey as I face the crossroad with a single path.

Toni is an author and you can follow her on Amazon.

 

Kief 2

Caravan Holidays

via Holiday Home Highs and Lows

I’ve just read this post by author Carole Parkes and it reminded me so much of my caravan days.

My parents had a static caravan for many years and we were able to take advantage of it. I have so many happy memories of holidays when my children were little.

In their latter years, they bought a caravan in Anglesey. It was secluded from the main site and had its own garden and was right next to the beach. For almost ten years, my husband and I had a week’s holiday (as well as a few weekends) there. My children visited and there was many big family BBQs.

When they died, we took over the caravan, and as Carole mentions in her article, we renovated to make it ours. After that we had a further six years of wonderful holidays by the sea. We fell in love with the island, so when it was time for my husband to retire we bought a bungalow and there seemed no reason for us to keep the caravan.

Two years on, we are very happy in our island home, but when I read posts like Carole’s it reminds me of so many happy times.

 

The Wind & the Sun

by Paul White

 

I, like many writers, often question where our love of penmanship and wordsmithing originated. Usually, there is no singular reason, but an amalgamation of many over time.

Some influences, I am certain, came from experiences way before we gave any consideration to such. My own father was one who, unwittingly and unknowingly, did so.

This is a story my father used to tell me as a child.

Way back then, I had no idea this story was his version of an Aesop’s fable. In fact, at the time I recall him first telling me this tale I had never heard of Aesop and held no comprehension of what a fable might be. I was far too young.

I loved listening to him regale it and often asked he tell it again the next time we should be together. Although I heard this story many times, it was not until I was about seven years of age I began to understand how the moral of the tale, or at least the basic message it carried, related to life, even my own life.

My father was not literary inclined. I do not remember seeing him read anything, besides the horse racing pages of the local newspaper. Yet he had a wonderful way of telling jokes and regaling stories.

My father has now been dead for over thirty-five years, yet I still recall his voice when I think of the Wind & the Sun.

Moreover, I am still learning the true extent of how the simple and basic message this story carries can affect every part of our lives, in work, play, socially and in our domestic and love/personal life relationships.

I will try my best to recount this tale as close to my father’s recitation as I can recall because I still prefer his version to that of Aesop.

Maybe you would too if you could hear his voice as still do.

One day the Wind and the Sun were looking down upon the earth when they saw a man walking along a footpath.

“Look at that man,” said the Wind, “I bet I can get his jacket off him quicker than you.”

“You think you can?” asked the Sun.

“Of course,” the Wind replied, “because I am strong and powerful.”

“Go on then,” said the Sun “let me see what you can do.”

The Wind began to blow. As the Wind blew the man’s jacket flapped in the breeze. The Wind blew harder, whipping up clouds of dust and blowing the leaves from the trees.

The man buttoned his jacket, turned up his collar, lowered his head and continued walking.

Displeased with his efforts so far, the Wind let a howling gale bellow over the ground. It was so forceful the man needed to fold his arms across his chest to stop his jacket from being blown off.

The Wind saw the what the man was doing, so he took a huge puff and let loose a great tempest.

The man clutched his jacket tighter to himself, holding it firm with both hands, lowering his head as he walked along.

Again and again, the Wind blew and blew. The harder the Wind blew the tighter the man clung to his Jacket.

Eventually, the Wind had puffed so hard for so long, he blew himself out.

The Sun laughed and said to the Wind “Now it is my turn to try and get this man’s jacket off.”

“Ha,” said the Wind, “what can you do, I have used all the great force mother nature gave to me, yet the man still wears his jacket.”

The Sun smiled and shone his gentle rays of warm sunlight upon the earth and upon the man.

The man took his hands from his jacket.

The Sun continued to smile and spread his warmth.

The man unbuttoned his jacket and loosened his tie.

After a while, the man, bathed in the glorious heat from the sun, removed his jacket, slung it over his shoulder and began to whistle as he walked.

“You see, Wind,” said the Sun, “you can accomplish far more by being gentle and giving than you can with brute force.”

 

Thank you for reading my late father’s version of this story. I hope you enjoyed it.

You can read some of my own short stories, if you wish, by visiting me here.

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