jillypoet: mom trying to write

Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

confession Wednesday

Yes. I know it is supposed to be confession Tuesday. After teaching all day and making dinner and performing the whole bedtime routine, it would probably be very cathartic to write a confession. However, it might be way too whiny. So. On to confession #2, as that last bit can be #1.

2. My dad is in the hospital. Again. He's been to the local little hospital in my hometown about three or four times since January. Now he is in the big city hospital in Vermont for the second time since January. First it was his heart. Now they just don't know what it is. He has severe stomach pain that, this time, even three shots of morphine couldn't help. No one knows what is causing the pain.

Here's the catch. He has an anueryism near his kidney artery. It is very big and, apparently, growing bigger. He knows about it and last year decided not to have the operation which has tremendous risk. He'll be 80 this year. He has already had a brush with death 14 years ago with a burst aneuryism. Prior to that, he never even had the flu.

3. This is less a confession than a chance to think this through in the best way I know--through writing. I have never been a writer who writes about the things bothering me. At least, not directly. No sappy love poems for me. One of the hardest poems I had to write in grad school was a love poem. I turned to Rita Mae Brown to write a poem for the body builder I was dating. The first line was "This is not a love poem..." Something about orange juice and baked circles of sweet potatoes. I ended up breaking up with him because "he didn't get me..." He was the only man ever to promise me that if we got married I would never have to work. I could focus on my art. Gee whiz. Glad I passed that up. He was probaly the only one who ever did get me.

4. Ah...the confession serum is working! Now I see a distinct parallel between my father and the guys I've dated. Not that that is news. That's old news, in fact. But what a great poem it would make, if I could ruminate on my father's mortality and the mistakes I've made with men. Of course, that teeters into confessional poetry which I am not a fan of. I like Sharon Olds, but I don't feel like that is my niche.

5. Confessional poetry seems too needy. Yet, I read poets like Olds to see how they do it and not look needy or whiny. Even in college I could not stand the poems other students wrote that echoed with a resounding..."Why me?" Maybe because during the two times my mother had cancer she said, "Not why me? Why not me?"

5 1/2. None of this is about me. Not really. It is all about my father. I'm fine. I'm healthy.

6. What my father has is a time bomb inside him, but none of us can get a clear look at the steadily flashing red numbers.

7. I have always assumed I will get breast cancer because my mother had it and my aunts had it. I have always assumed I would handle it with grace and dignity, without fear, because my mother did. I've only had one mammogram. I'm due for this year's. I wonder just how truly brave I will be?

8. Thinking about death and mortality and funerals makes me slightly paranoid. Superstitious. As though if I think it, I will bring it on. My father is the oldest fireman, longest acting member, in our town. 60-some years as a fireman, firechief, fire commisioner, fire police. The current chief, a relatively young man, just died suddenly a few months ago. My father said it was the biggest funeral he had ever seen. Fire companies from all over the state, a processional on the old truck through the town and back again. I know he was also privately wondering if he would have one so grand. So was I. What must it be like to imagine your own funeral?

9. Even as I write all this, knowing perfectly well that the stuff of real life is the stuff of real writing, I feel bad. This kind of writing is diary writing. Am I an academic snob, or am I afraid to share my feelings? And now that they're out there, what do I do with them? They won't change the outcome of my father's condition. I wonder what might happen if I print it out and try to write? Of course, I'll need a quiet moment. Well there. No worries. I won't have to write a poem about this anytime soon! Of course, today will be the day my daughter takes a good long nap. Gotta face the demons sometime, I guess. Maybe my muse will be on vacation...

*** post-confession update: My mom just called from the hospital. He has pnumonia, again. They're sending him home with antibiotics. Still no clear idea about the pain. Surgery talk tabled until lungs are clear. Anueryism still there, ticking away... You see, now that the current "drama" has ebbed away, I feel silly for thinking such morose thoughts.


Blogger PDW said...

of course you can confess on wednesday, especially if they're this good. (well, who am i kidding? i'll take anything that's offered.)

your concern about whining in your writing is a valid one. none of us likes to read whiny poetry. but i do think this kind of confession/diary/journal type of free writing can unearth connections and meanings where we might not see them if we don't allow ourselves to vent a little bit. we can edit out the whining from the end poems. right?

overall, of course, your inclination not to whine is that northern girl thing coming through. we're a fatalistic people. we deal with what we're given. publicly stoic. privately, of course, among your friends and your blog friends, all things, all instincts, emotions and complaints are allowed. and encouraged.

don't worry, we'll let you know if the whining slips into the poetry. which it never does.

1:00 PM  
Blogger jillypoet said...

confession must surely be good for the soul! i wrote two poems after my confession!

1:09 PM  
Blogger Wendelynn said...

I laughed at "I'm an academic snob" because, the biggest complaint with all my writing in grad school was that I was "too personal". heh. I was writing sermons for crying out loud!

Anyhow, this reads more like a prayer list to me. And that's GOOD. In fact, it reads like the genre I'm most familiar with in prayer lists: the Psalms. At least, if I may be so bold, it's where I will start my "today". Holding good thoughts for your dad (the picture of him... oh, melts my heart!) and you.

And seriously, you have nothing to fear in the whining department. It's exactly what blogging is for anyhow! A place to but the "other" we don't want sneaking into our work. Not that you're whining. Because, uh, you're not.

1:33 PM  
Blogger jillypoet said...

My favorite parts of my pastor's sermons are when he gets personal. That's the way he reaches me, brings the bible and Jesus home, right to my doorstep. I suppose that's how all good writing succeeds, actually, poem, sermon, fiction--getting to the personal which is usually universal. It's doing it skillfully that concerns me. Don't want to be one of those superfluous suburban moms. Is that bad? Should I have said that out loud? I am suburban (not by birth, by God) and I am a mom. But I will not be a suburban mom. Anyway, I'm too poor! That is, until I become a famous poet...You know how rich they all are. Will the confessions never end?

1:50 PM  
Blogger PDW said...

i hope we get to see those poems that resulted from the confessions of a doubting whiner. :)

6:09 PM  
Blogger ...deb said...

I didn't hear any whining at all...only palpable realities of parents' aging and failing and how we are to cope with that - when little is known and daily life busts in and my (this is where your words transcended to my very real experience of similar circumstances) own creative life teeters on haplessness and helplessness.

So. Your confessions moved me. Tremendously. And that doesn't seem like whining from here.

I will hope the best for you and yours. (And I love the photo, and your son's expression is delightful.)

9:43 PM  
Blogger January said...

No whining here, just lots of self expression. Who cares if you get poems out of this or not--feels good sometimes to put the words in order to get to the meaning.

Hope your dad gets better soon.

8:46 PM  

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