H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S J O U R N A L
Do Unto Others
Here is how dying happened
in the McDermott family:
Something awful (stroke, heart attack)
took you to the hospital
you died two days later.
Or, if you aged, aged,
planned to take your time
dying, you did at home
(perhaps an adult child’s home),
provided a progression of equipment—
TV-magnifiers, walkers, toilet raisers,
shower chairs, beds with sidebars.
Your grandchildren ate anise squares
and peppermints from your silky
pockets, spent afternoons doing homework
in your room (your dresser
turned desk for math problems),
watched your preferred soap opera
on long, hot summer mornings.
You were not hurried
to the day when leaving
bed was impossible, but it
arrived, everyone helped, maybe Hospice
Your kids visited your bed
and listened for your breathing
to change, called the others
when it did. Everyone crowded
into the room the moment
that you breathed your last.
You peed your last too,
and your family washed you
tenderly, finally, before calling it,
phoning the funeral parlor.
Your grandchildren were taken
to the mall for black
dresses, suitable attire for viewing
your dead body. They applied
permanent blusher, tinted the coffin
blue—your favorite color.
They waked you, buried you,
held mass in your honor,
hoped for similar mercies themselves
in their distant final days,
but not too distant, no.
Alina Borger writes and teaches in Iowa City, IA. Her work has appeared most recently in The Mom Egg Review, Stirring, and Wherewithal. A complete list of her publications is available at www.alinaborger.com, or connect with her on Twitter @AliBG.
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