Writing Wings For You

Marie Lukasik Wallace ~ # I LIVE Poetry – I'm passionate about life and writing and all things creative and poetic!


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What I’ve Learned About Aging and Dying

red bird 2

I’ve have been honored and blessed to get to spend time with my daddy in his last days.  The community I work with has surrounded me with love and have stepped in to help with my students as I go through this process. It’s something I never thought I wanted to witness.  But my daughter taught  me, that while it’s painful to see a loved one aging and dying, it is also a blessing.  Through watching her go through it, I am reminded that I still get to make memories; I still get to laugh and celebrate many moments.

Remember when your children were little, and you couldn’t wait to clap and cheer as they made their first steps, or ate their first solid food, or spoke for the first time?   You and your spouse argue whether they said “mama” or “daddy” first?  It’s like that.  Each day we celebrate new things that we used to take for granted.

A good day for daddy this week was when he assisted with his getting in and out of bed.  He had the energy, AND, most importantly he had a smile.  He flirts with all the nurses.  They ask for hugs and kisses, and he gives them back.  That’s a celebration because he’s been sleeping so much and been so weak, he has hardly been able to hold his attention on anything.

Other celebrations, being able to feed yourself, being able to dance with your wheelchair to the beat of the music (even if it’s only rocking the chair back and forth. walking up and down the hail by scooting your wheelchair with your feet.

And music…music really is something that is appreciated by the elderly.  They remember.  They do!   Sometimes it’s a finger tap or a toe tap…and sometimes, it’s a tear.  But there’s a moment of remembrance…and those gray eyes twinkle for a moment.   And even you are brought back to a moment in time…for me, it was this summer, getting lost with daddy in the car, when a four hour round trip became an eight hour round trip.  We were headed for the coast…and got lost instead.  I can’t ever remember being lost as so blissful…but it was just me and my daddy time…and it was perfect.  We talked about just every day stuff…and it was good.  Music can do that for you.

We’ve also gotten a chance to go for walks and see and hear the birds here.  I saw my first red bird outside my daddy’s window this past winter.  I remember he scooted his wheelchair with his feet to get a chance to see that bird…and though he couldn’t talk, his lips moved, and he “tweeted” again…which also reminded me of the summer which I wrote about before…they’re beautiful to listen to…their song like no other.  Maybe I just hear things differently.  I know that I see and feel things differently.  I am blessed to make these memories with my daddy now…even though it’s a frail, broken body, ready for rest…there are still moments of beauty in our lives still waiting to be grasped.   What is waiting for you?

 


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For you My Daddy – What I Learn from you as You Leave this Mortal Life

My heart is so small
it’s almost invisible.
How can You place 
such big sorrows in it?
 
“Look,” He answered,
“your eyes are even smaller,
yet they behold the world.”  ~ Rumi ~

As you know, I’ve been writing about my daddy and how I had been developing a relationship with this vaulted man, and I began writing his story.  All the while, making daily phone calls, having to get through not only the emotional vault, but the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s and its effects of fear of people trying to harm him and steal from him.  I took whatever morsels I could get because I knew a little of my dad was better than what many people get, and it was a legacy of stories for my kids and grandkids.

In October, I sent my dad an excerpt from the book so I could see if I was hitting the mark, capturing his story the way he wanted it to be told.  When I received the phone call, I could hardly wait to get feedback to see if I had hit the mark and know where to take the story next.  But I also braced myself for if he hated it.

“Hello dad, how are you?”  I said holding my breath.  His first words were strong and harsh, “Shame on you.”   My heart sunk.  Wow.  I had not expected that.  ‘What had I said?  What was so wrong? ”     He replied, “You made me cry.”  I heaved a huge sigh of audible relief.  I really wanted to get his story right.  He also told me that I had written it as if I were there.  This is my first time writing ANYONE’S story, so it was scary…even scarier because it was my dad.  He told me he was very proud of me..and that he was looking forward to reading more of my story.  The next day, my dad had a stroke.  He couldn’t talk well at all.  The left side of his face was sagging, so his speech was slurred.    My heart crushed again…because my dad’s story book was closing…and I would no longer have access to it.    Within a few days, my dad could not talk at all.  We think he had several more mini strokes..because it was odd we couldn’t hear some except some basic whispers of basic conversatioins.

So now, three months later, my dad still can’t talk.  It’s so very sad…and very difficult to watch.  He knows what is being said all around him, but he can’t communicate his basic needs, nor can he communicate his feelings.  He can no longer write…and even the simpliest communication boards don’t serve him well.

The silver lining is that each day he loses something, and I am more grateful for what I was able to hold onto the day before…which reminds me to just be as present as possible today.

As I go through this process, a million thoughts are writing across my brain.  I feel them…I try to grasp them…but I am clumsy.  However, I KNOW the power of words..and I KNOW they will heal…and I trust that my dad and I still have a few adventures left in us…I am optimistic.  I am grateful.  I am blessed.

Thank you dear God for the blessings, even in these tragic, heart breaking moments.  Let us both find peace and beauty and yes, still some laughter.  That’s what my daddy does best.

Take care my friends,

love your peeps.

Marie


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Time for a Sweet Release

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It is time

For your sweet release

Let go of this physical world

And embrace the spiritual.

 

There we can talk

We can play dominoes

And giggle

We can be whom

We’ve been all along

We won’t be restrained

We won’t feel frustration

It can be just you and me

Having coffee daddy

 

And your voice will be heard

And it will be written

A legacy embraced

And all will be as it should be

 

It is time.

Time for a sweet release

 

Trapped in a steel cage

Of silence

The tongue clumsy

Derelict of its duty

Unable to serve its master

 

 

 

Trapped

Unable to say

What you want

What you need

To be mad out loud

To say how you feel

Or don’t feel about anything

A mind alert without

A voice to support it

Is just that…

A trap…

So unfair

And cruel, and unusual punishment.

Let go.

It is time.

Time for a sweet release


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Daddy – Please Re-Remember

daddy talking with hands

Maybe tomorrow

My daddy

You can somehow

Re-remember

How to form words

And you can tell

Me your stories again.

#fieryverse


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Why You MUST Write – A True Story

I implore you.  If you feel the calling, you MUST write.  There are too many people who depend on you to share the gift you’ve been entrusted with.   It’s vital.

Day before yesterday, I freaked about writing my dad’s story…What qualifies me to write it?  How do I finish it when my dad can’t talk?   Am I good enough?

There were so many questions and feelings of inadequacy.  I reached out to my amazing writer friend, Bridget. She knows how to give a voice to others because she writes people’s stories.  I knew she understood what it was like to reach a point of vagueness, or sheer terror, and feelings of inadequacy…and still she wrote on.  She reminded me that if I didn’t write his story, then my dad truly would not have a voice, especially now that he can’t talk at all.

Today, I went to the nursing home and read my dad another chapter of his story….a story I know that has deep meaning for my daddy.  I read it aloud to him, and he crumbled and cried.  Was I looking  to make him cry?  No, of course not.  But what this revealed to me was the power of hearing the voice of a vaulted man.  This is a man who never showed emotion of any kind.  This is a man who used alcohol to not feel pain…not feel emotion…in an era where men were to be invincible over any kind of vulnerability.  When he cried, he showed me that he had been real and honest with me. When he cried, I knew he had heard his own voice out loud.  When he cried, I knew I had captured the essence of what he was feeling.  He had entrusted me with that part of him that revealed to himself he was human.   I remember earlier this summer my dad had said, “You gave me my life back.”   He needed me to be his voice.  He desperately wanted to be a part of this world and to belong.

Lastly, when I left, I reminded him, “Daddy, you’ve done some great things in your life.  You have left a legacy for your grand children and great grand children.  I am proud of what you have accomplished.  I am proud to be your daughter because you are honest and kind and good.”  He mouthed the words thank you with some sounds, squeezed my hand tight fiercely and kissed me.

Yes, he made mistakes…some really bad mistakes in which he felt the deepest darkest shame. But the darkness had not defined him.  As a writer, I got to reveal that the shame was only part of the story…that alcohol was the antagonist for a short time.  But the real Ernest, the one who overcame the darkness had risen and become a victor in his own story.   His reveal had provided a path for others.

This, my writer friends, is your mission, giving a voice to those whom can not speak or do not know how to speak.  This is how we heal our world, one story at a time.


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Alive Inside –

untitled (4) 

WATCH HENRY COME ALIVE!

 

Hello my friends!  I’m almost back.  I missed you so.  I’m recovering from the start of school and will be back on Sunday after a nice reprieve near my favorite nature, water.  Idaho has the best rivers and offers respite for the weary soul.  Just wanted to say a quick hello and tell you about an awesome movie that might not be out long in case you’re thinking of going to the movies this weekend.

An independent film, Alive Inside, was playing at a small theater in Boise this week.  It was part of a great kickoff in our community to raise Alzheimer awareness and how music can bring back and awaken a soul.  Being in Poetry Therapy and also very interested in finding ways to communicate with my dad who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and trying to gather stories from his vaulted heart, I was intrigued and had to see it.

This documentary is very well done with case scenarios that show how music has assisted Alzheimer’s patients around the world and how they are working to get music in EVERY nursing home.  I hope you can see it.  If nothing else, watch Henry; he will light up your heart.

My daddy was excited about using music and has been helping make a list.  It’s been fun going over music with him and he’s been calling me.  He lives off by himself, so I worry that he won’t get the music or use it because there’s no one to give it to him.  But even if he does it for a small while and gets benefit and joy from it, I will be happy.

I’ll write more Sunday and come a visiting you!   Have a blessed weekend my friends.  Marie


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Throwback Thursday – Memoir -The COAST GUARD 1957

CAPE MAY COAST GUARD

 You’re gonna love this!  It’s from the Coast Guard 1957.  The artist drew it for my dad on his bootcamp issued towel.   Dad recently gave this to me.  It’s been in his bedroom, and I’ve seen glimpses of it…but until this year, he’s never let me in his room.  (Again, part of the vault opening up.)

Here’s what I love about it.  It’s got history!  There is so much history on this one towel!

I’ve been interviewing my daddy trying to get to know him better.  It’s only been the last three years that he’s opened the vault for me to peek in.  When I would ask him about the Coast Guard, sometimes he couldn’t remember specifics like dates and or places he went, and sometimes the names of the people he was with.

The good news is that when he gave me the towel, he gave me history…It says when and where he was in the Coast Guard, and his name and company name.  At the bottom, it’s signed by the artist…the very same name as my brother!

Dad vaguely remembered the guy and said he did a couple of tours with him…but he couldn’t give me details.  I understand…it was only 60 years ago!

The other cool part was that my daughter is in the Coast Guard too, and they still train in Cape May.  And the artist was just messing around.

Moral of the story:  Keep writing and keep drawing and keep taking pictures.  There’s someone who will love that history one day. LEAVE A LEGACY.