A Poem

I wrote this poem just after Nolemana’s papa-san died. He’d lived with us for eleven years, and I was his primary caregiver during his last couple of years. He and I had a very special relationship, and even now, I miss him. His birthday was just a few days ago, and I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately.

They Took His Bed Away Today

They took his bed away today

The bed that he used only 4 months;

The bed that was his resting place

When he was too feeble to move from it.

The bed that helped to make the

final days of his life a little easier.


While he was in that bed

I cared for him.  I washed his face,

and combed his hair and brushed his teeth.

From that bed he watched TV

(he  wouldn’t miss “The Price is Right”),

and read, and slept; and sometimes just lay there

watching time pass, waiting, always waiting,

wondering when the final moment would come

when he wouldn’t need it anymore.


During his final weeks in that bed,

I fed him, rubbed his arms, hands, and feet

with lotion; we’d talk quietly, about things

important and unimportant, about hopes

and fears.  Of dreams, fulfilled and unfulfilled.

Of things accomplished, and not accomplished.

“Tell me a story, Dad”, I’d say, and though

he teased me about all my questions

I think he really did enjoy telling stories of

his youth, and his work, and how different

things were, back then, almost a hundred years ago.


Some days he’d be too tired to talk, and the silences

were fine, too.  Those companionable silences that come

only after you’ve had the chance to really

get to know a person.


During the final days, I took care of his most

intimate needs.  I know it embarrassed him.

But we were a team, as we’d been all along,

And we got through it, still friends,

despite the indignity, and the smell, and the

hard work for both of us.


During the last hours, my words told him

everything that I needed to do:

“Okay, Dad, now I’m going to turn you over.

“Okay Dad, now I’m going to wash your face

and then I’ll put the oxygen back on”


“Dad, can you lift up just a little bit so that

I can get the Depends changed?  Oh, great job,

Dad!  Boy, what a team we make!”

“Dad, I’m putting on a Rogers and Hammerstein CD

for you; can you hear it okay?”

And then, “Dad, I promise that I’ll take care of

your orchids for you.  Everything will be done

the way you want it to be done.

I’m going to  miss you, Dad.”


“Dad, I don’t know if you can see them,

but I’ve put pictures of your kids and grandkids

up on your table so that you’re surrounded by those

who love you.  To help you know that you’re not alone.”

“Dad, you know how you’ve always talked about

how dying is like going to Chicago?  How you know it’s there,

but since you’ve never been there, it’s a little scary? 

Well, Dad, going to Heaven can be like that, but don’t forget:

as you draw closer to its shores, you’ll be able to see so many

of your friends and loved ones calling and waving to you,

saying, “C’mon, Roy, you’re almost home!  It’s so good to see you again!”


“Dad, I promise that you’ll be safe.  I’ll keep you safe.  I won’t let anyone

put any tubes down your throat, or shock you with the paddles, or do

any of the things you don’t want done.  I promise, Dad.  I will keep you safe. 

You can stay here; I won’t let them take you anywhere else.”


And finally, “Dad, you’ve fought the good fight.  You’ve finished the race..

The time has come for your departure. You have kept the faith. Now,

there is in store for you the crown of righteousness, which the Lord,

the righteous Judge, will award to you on that day;

And not only to you, but also to all who have longed

For His appearing.”

They took his bed away today,

the bed that he used only 4 months;

the bed that was his resting place

When he was too feeble to move from it.

The bed that helped to make the

final days of his life a little easier.

Roy Graydon White. 1905-2001
This entry was posted in ʻOhana, Stories and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Poem

  1. Michelle says:

    That was beautiful.

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