City snow blankets my little mother in her hospital
bed in her bedroom, no wonder she is confused,
pointing to things in the air, on the ceiling that only
she can see. She might be hailing a cab. She raises
her head to tell me, Four members of the Isenberg
family came to visit and one was Mima Ettel,
who is already buried in the
Lou arrived alone when she’d come for her blood pressure and itchy skin. Sharp, funny, she told me of her daughters, grown up and far away, and her life in the neighborhood as it changed around her. She had lived there for decades, long after her husband left, long after raising two on her own, long after the cottages around her were torn down for industrial sites. Neighbors were scarce and stray dogs plenty.
I have lived in Japan for more than half of my life. I first came here as a nine-year-old child, the daughter of a missionary. Later, after several years of study and work in the US, I returned as an adult with my Japanese husband. You’d think that after more than thirty years here, I could almost call myself Japanese! But no. In this homogeneous country, I’m still a foreigner.
I have always been too enthusiastic. Out of all my classmates, I sang the loudest at birthdays, I laughed the longest at jokes and I asked more questions than anyone else. In fifth grade, a firefighter visited my class; after I’d asked my third question
A woman I volunteered with and hold most dear had
About the artist:
Jef Gamblee is a hospice chaplain from Westerville, Ohio. He first appeared in Pulse in December 2014. Jef is a second-career ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, having spent twenty-five years in commercial and corporate television as
Over the years I had come to dread this weekly chore and today, as always, it filled me with such sadness. Tuesdays, on my day off from work, I would drive to the nursing home to visit my mother. There were times when Mom would look at me with her crystal clear blue eyes and say, “Do you know when Beth is coming?” “I AM Beth,” I would exclaim, over and over again when
I am a primary-care doctor who makes house calls in and around Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Most of my visits are in neighborhoods, but today my rounds start at a house located down a dirt road a few miles outside of town.
Gingerly, I cross the front walk; Mrs. Edgars told me that she killed a rattlesnake in her flowerbed last year.
She is at the door, expecting my visit. Mr. Edgars sits on the
When I cannot help remembering, I recall
that the end of your memory arrived
in a Texas spring so wet it churned the rivers,
ripped white frame houses from the banks
and sent them rampaging on the currents
like Pamplona bulls turned loose into the streets.
There were bridges on those rising rivers, and
I cannot help remembering
“You see, the world is coming to an end,”
she says. We’re on the porch; our rockers creak.
Tomorrow vanishes around a bend.
For fifty years she’s been a family friend
whom I should really visit once a week,
now that the world is coming to an end.
I reach out; put my hand over her hand.
We sit and for a moment do not speak.
A rapid shadow slides around the bend
Visiting the dementia unit of a nursing home is never easy.
First off, you have to find your patient amid the assemblage of people–mostly women–seated in wheelchairs, recliners, wingbacks, sofas and assorted walkers, or wandering around.
Then, you must make yourself known to the person you’ve found. Here’s where the harder questions arise: How can I introduce myself and convey my role–a hospice chaplain–to someone who has outlasted language? Is my state of