Today I saw my Dad (if I can find words)

He was hot, dirty and bloody and barrelling back to his camp,
Leaving a battalion of fresh young boys behind him, they weren’t moving anymore.
He had murder in his eyes and fire in his breath

as he searched for a man soon to have appreciation for the consequences of his decisions,

In a tropical paradise, de-evolved.

I saw my Dad today,

He was burning down the road by the river in his white mustang,

Pressed a cigarette charred almost all the way down to his lips,

while the hard sweet sounds of a steel string guitar were blared through the stereo,

wrapped itself in smoke and crawled out the window

lingering by the side of the road long after the car had disappeared.

 

I saw my Dad today,

He was sitting at the bedside of an old neighbour that he heard was in hospital,

She was feeling poorly and telling him of the lives and happenings of everyone in her life,

He was asking her how’s her bills going?

She said she didn’t know how she was gonna pay her rent,

He said don’t worry about it… “I’ll take care of it.”

 

I saw my Dad today

He was hot, dirty and bloody and barrelling back to his camp,

Leaving a battalion of fresh young boys behind him, they weren’t moving anymore.

He had murder in his eyes and fire in his breath

as he searched for a man soon to have appreciation for the consequences of his decisions,

In a tropical paradise, de-evolved.

 

Today I saw my Dad

He was sitting in the middle of a brown lounge

a cigarette was burned off in his fingers

a shot mug of whisky sat on the crowded coffee table in front of him,

His eyes were squinted shut, the sound he made was nothing but a wheeze

as his round shoulder shook with laughter and tears squeezed out and ran down his face.

 

Today I saw my Dad,

He was thin, bony and changed,

His eyes lit up as I walked in the room,

and I love yous were spoken without voice from behind a mask

written in his eyes, and in shaky hand on a piece of scrap-paper

along with water, popsicle, and turn over.

 

 

Today I saw a man in a box, but I didn’t see my Dad.

 

I see my Dad

In a million faces including mine,

he is driving, laughing, complaining, he is admiring that thick girl’s ass,

he is scattered in pieces that number immense,

and rests in my head in my heart

in smiles, laughter and tears.

Christina Donoghue 19/06/2017

how to stop holding on

A meditation on the simplest and most painful journey of my fathers looming mortality

It’s been a long night

tears of tiredness, tension maybe grief roll from my eyes and stop…

I’m too tired for that.

My Dad died last night.

And then he rose again,

not on the third day but on the second resuscitation

“So it’s no intubation right?”

right

Careful no eye contact, don’t want there to be any warmth here where happy stories are few and broken hearts are many,

but the coffee’s weak and free, hopeful. “Maam step outside.”

Earlier: “He thinks he has pneumonia”

“No maam, it’s just the fluid on his lungs”

“He’s not right, his skin feels clammy”

“That’s probably just because it’s warm in here”

unseeing bloodstained eyes fixed on the ceiling.

“Sir can you hear me?”

________________________________________________________

Code blue in room 111

 

 

Bloody Australia Day

I can’t erase the echoes in the ears of the lynched. And sayin’ it’s just a good day for a beer and a barbie, but if that was the truth, so would any other day just without the bloody remembrance.

I was born on this land. The land of the Burramattagal people of the Darug mob. This land that for 60,000 years their people have lived on, cared for and protected this land, and until I was an adult, I knew nothing about them.

w2028920parramatta20courtesy20of20national20library20of20australia20nla-pic-an207690900-vI love this land, it is the land that my feet have walked on for a lifetime. I love her and she has cared for me. My children were birthed here and their feet a hewn by this ground and she by them. It cared for my ancestors when they were forced from their own land in Ireland, I am the first of my American ancestors to walk here.

Bloody abos was a term I grew up hearing. Racist jokes and slurs now echo in my head evidencing the colonial mindset which still prevails and the mouths and minds of many. As much as we acknowledge the original owners of this land, and respect their elders, we are still standing on the land which was stolen, with no intention of giving it back.

The truth is that we are an English colony,  till this day. We are the benefactors of the invaders,  the indigenous people of this land have very little choice but to suck it up and adapt. But that is not the story we’re sold.

The truth is we are celebrating the invasion of what is now called Australia. It is still a yearly ‘f you’ we took over, live with it, to any indigenous person that might have enough hold of their own identity to know their origins. We may sell it to ourselves saying… oh well we’ve transformed the meaning of the day, it’s now just celebrating this great country. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s like transforming the word nigger, it still doesn’t lose the hundreds of years it was uttered to degrade. I can’t erase the echoes in the ears of the lynched. And sayin’ it’s just a good day for a beer and a barbie, but if that was the truth, so would any other day just without the bloody remembrance.

If the people of a colony acquired through bloodshed ever sit with themselves quietly and contemplate the land on which they sit and don’t look away, their brash “get over it” attitude might change to one of true humility, respect and gratitude.

I believe that as a people we show great generosity, compassion and understanding. The Australian spirit is famous all over the world for a reason. But if charity starts at home, maybe it’s time that we really show these people the respect of generations of lives destroyed and lost in the name of colonisation.

anzac-day-1

ANZAC Day and remembrance days are two days around all our dead that are treated as sombre and sorrowful moments. Yet on this day we don’t give the original people of this land the same respect.
So when do words and ideals translate into action and belief?

multicultural-australia-stqh1v

 

The space between…

Why do we get caught up in rushing to work, rushing our children off to school, rushing to eat, rushing to fall in love? Life really does give us reminders or opportunities to stop rushing and just let life do what it has to do.

No being but a human appears to rush, things just take the time that they take. There is a   simplicity in acceptance of that concept that makes so much sense to me. When my garden grows it just takes the time it needs. So why then do we get caught up in rushing to work, rushing our children off to school, rushing to eat, rushing to fall in love? Life really does give us reminders or opportunities to stop rushing and just let life do what it has to do. There’s that beautiful moment when you’re giving birth (I feel your resistance, just give me a sec) when you’ve just been through the worst bit (crowning) and you just have to stop everything, stop the fast breathing, don’t push, just wait and trust while you wait for the baby’s shoulders to turn so it can just slip out. (Ewww, OK sorry ;-))

I had an awful beautiful moment of watching and waiting two years ago, when my Pop, Ronald, was dying. The high-care nursing home he had been in hadn’t been moving him often enough an he developed a bedsore that he never recovered from. Day after day I sat there in the white hospital room beside him, holding his hand and playing the nostalgia station through my phone on Pandora. The cheerful curtains were competing with the smell of rotting flesh and disinfectant emitting from beneath my grandfather’s dressings. Most days the curtains came in second. I wanted to rush his pain to its end, but eventually fell into the lull that is dying. I sat and watched the people come and go, grappling with how to sort out their own emotions around death and the person who was dying.  There was a slowness, an ease and a perfection that I observed in the way that my grandfather slipped away from this place, there was nothing hurried about it.

Falling slowly in love has a beautiful quality to it. Like languishing in the flavour of a perfect meal, letting the taste linger on your taste buds so there time to notice its buttery-sweetness along with it sharp sour notes. Giving yourself the permission to take the time that it takes to get to know another person is a gift to everyone involved. Although sometimes I must admit, I just want to slam down a burger, even though I know it’s not good for me.

My ex (stay with me now) would often complain about how long it took me to answer him.  He would ask my opinion on some topic that required some thought, and before I could answer would lose it that I hadn’t answered. “I was thinking about what you asked me!” was a common utterance of mine. He would call me vague, but I always thought that if you were to take a person seriously, you would think about what to say before saying it. So, I was totally vindicated when I read this quote from Chief Luther Standing Bear.
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“Praise, flattery, exaggerated manners, and fine, high-sounding words were no part of Lakota politeness. Excessive manners were put down as insincere, and the constant talker was considered rude and thoughtless. Conversation was never begun at once, or in a hurried manner.

“No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation.”

Chief Luther Sanding Bear, Oglala Sioux

No doubt I will again be employed in some role that ensures that a deadline is the bookend to my day. But, I hope we all remember to always take the time to breath, watch the clouds go past, think about it when someone asks us a question, look our children in the eyes when we smile at them and always notice the life that is moving around us, at a speed set by our consciousness of the moments it contains.