The Gospel Proclaimed…
Since early September I have been living in my childhood home in Spring City, PA with my dad, who is in a gentle stage of dementia. I wanted to use this time of imposed sabbatical to work on some personal things, be present in his life and give breaks to my brother and his wife who live next door.
As well, I have been cleaning out rooms and the basement, discovering a few gems but mostly decades of memories and fleetingly meaningful detritus.
This time has been deep, occasional hilarious, and an exercise on being present in the moment.
I’ve also dabbled in a new written form, with apologies to actual poets…
During supper the gospel is proclaimed.
Willie, Johnny and EmmyLou
sing of grace and blood, and sacrifice.
Prepared by care-giver for Dad.
She, with a Menno background
‘Fallen away’ and returned,
carrying life as a blessing and a burden.
Oft times tattered and wounded,
with a love for cowboy boots and cowboy songs
and gospel sung by the stars who hold a similar need
to sing the old songs.
The ones that harken them back
back to simple homes and simple faith.
Dad says, “We let the music be our prayer”
I held for a beat, fork in hand.
Willie’s benedictal twang gave us amazing grace
and so we gave our amen.
Dad is a pleasant dementia sufferer
Much like a happy drunk.
This insidious disease for him
rather than angry and tear-filled.
each meal is savored,
“Oh that’s good”
The Special K.
“Wow, that is so good”
“There’s just something about a banana”
Well, the banana.
The night I made supper.
“Do you have some music?”
I do, but
no gospel music on my phone.
Bruce, Rhiannon, Kottke and Cohen
and Brandi Carlisle.
So with the BarBQ and sautéed asparagus
Brandi sang our prayer.
I haven’t seen my father in some time
But his face is always staring back at me
His heavy hands hang at the ends of my arms
And my colors change like the sea
But I don’t worry much about time lost
I’m not gunning for the dreams I couldn’t find
‘Cause he taught me how to walk the best that I can
On the road I’ve left behind
But most of all
He taught me to forgive
How to keep a cool head
How to love the one you’re with
And when I’m far into the distance
And the pushing comes to shove
To remember what comes back
When you give away your love
Give away your love
When you give your love away
Give away your love
-Most Of All B. Carlisle
In the house I left at 19, with the man
Who raised us with benevolent neglect
Who will ask me 37 times
“When we are leaving tomorrow?”
We communed together
While Brandi gave us the Gospel.
Ted Swartz 9.20.2020