Dedicated to nurse Flo, Providence Hospital, Seattle, Washington, November 2, 1995.
Eight IV bags hanging in the air around his bed. Eight colored lines snaking their way
beneath the bed, under the rail, around his pillow and into his body. More snakes wriggled away to empty his used
up life into containers hidden beneath bed rails and covers. Green numbers and white lines counted the
breaths, measured the beats and monitored the life.
Song of the Soul L/e
American Indians Art
Old, but not withered, sick, but not wasted, with his
handsome face swollen to an artificial fullness by disease. White cotton looped gently over his wrists
as his hands (careful...here, grab my hand, honey) trembled with false
life and struggled intermittently against the bonds.
Three pairs of loving eyes watched as the white jacketed
hands took a line from the tree and remove its fangs from his arm. Green numbers acknowledged the action with a
slight drop, then steadied a bit as the white lines continued. Two pairs of eyes noted her reach through
the rails to touch and grasp and kindly looked away from her unsuccessful
attempt to compel energy into his body through force of will.
Hands touched and stroked legs and arms and
feet, murmuring softly as the green numbers dropped again and the white lines
began to lose their sharpness.
Incongruous sunlight beamed its happy smile across the quiet shapes,
glaring on the plastic monitor screens and temporarily blurring the steadily
Tiny frown lines creased his weathered face and three sets
of tears began to sparkle in the sun. A
fourth pair of feet quietly entered the room to silence alarms and mechanical
warnings and slipped into the outer edge of the circle. Green numbers dropped precipitously, lower
and closer as the white mountains flattened into hills and then smoothed into a
A last grimace of pain elicited her low moan of denial as
she groped feebly to give him some sort of comfort and take away the pain. Sunlight danced merrily on his quiet chest providing
proof the vigil had ended.
The fourth pair of shoes moved forward from the circle's
edge to turn off the green numbers and white lines. With care and respect, hands used to cleaning and caring removed
the lines and took away the tree. Sunlight
ignited sparkling purple fires in four set of tears, temporarily transforming
beige walls and bedding to a brilliantine blur, then faded. It backed slowly from the window, taking
with it bright colors, sharp outlines, and our love.
Dad died November 2, 1995 after spending two months in intensive care. When it became obvious that the "medicine" had turned to "life support", we stopped it and sat down to wait for him to die. One of the nurses,
Flo, was especially fond of dad. She was with us through the end, caring for dad even after he was gone.
Dawn of a New Day
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Gene Williams 1924 - 1995
(Still missing you, dad)
"Son burned, on the way to hospital, not life threatening...".
That's what was written on the pink "While You Were Out" phone message handed to
me by the office aide. I had just answered an unexpected knock at my classroom door;
unexpected because this was a night class at a very tiny community college, and a summer
night class at that. Indeed, this evening, mine was the only classroom occupied in the 30
year old portable classroom module impressively labeled the "Business and Technology
I caught a glint of silver movement out of the corner of my eye as a few head's bobbed up
and then back down. My class of mostly senior citizens had an hour left in that evening's
"Computers for the Fearful" class and were busily attempting to insert graphics
and clip art into a document. The normal cross-talk had faded away, and several pairs of
eyeglasses were now focused on my whispered conversation with the office aide.
"...son burned" I couldn't seem to focus on the entire message. " ...son
burned" - why couldn't I visualize what that meant? "...love burned
Holy Fire - Left Panel
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"Dragon", a voice drifts softly in the hot, dry air, "...just
I heard voices calling to me with the breath of the wind.
My bare toes scratched deeper into the warm sand,
instinctively seeking a cooler level beneath the burning surface, as I turned to inspect the
scenery. The blowing dust settled
briefly, revealing in the distant unfamiliar mountains. Sharp crags
were filled with shades of red and gold
and outlined in purple shadows. Turning, I took in the foreign landscape
that surrounded me.
Vague memories of a summer trip through the
desert wilderness flitted briefly in and out of my consciousness. As I continued
my slow pirouette, I could see a towering
rock formation shedding cloaks of black shadows across the desert floor.
I murmured my surprise, not conscious that my thoughts
had even been voiced as they blended with raspy whisper of the strengthening
wind. A gust lifted the sand higher, obscuring my view.
The whispering voices, many now, muttered and
rustled the air with words I could only barely discern.
"Dragon, ...over there...come."
The sand swirls and twists, climbing up around my knees in the strengthening wind.
The whispers moaned on the rising wind.
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