Friday, February 10, 2012

a ceremony of losses*


balance              eyesight          comprehension          
patience              glasses               joy                                       
keys           phone            remote
travel in retirement     driving ability       sense of direction
crossword puzzles    ability to tell analogue time     
stamina         wallet           glasses
reading       bike riding         swimming
memory        farmhouse         freedom
ability to understand electronic gadgets
socks     dialing a phone     writing checks
talent in fixing or building      wife's carefree spirit
electronic chargers       playing sports         shoes
magnifying glass       hat          gloves      
spontaneous movement             glasses            vitality
confidence          judgment             career 
everyone's phone number      self determination
distinction between freezer and refrigerator
horsing around with grandkids
cribbage     backgammon         independence 
directions for everything     (can't read them anyway)
speed      hiking        trust in own abilities
operation of thermostat,    oven,      dishwasher    
fluency         words         story telling.....
...his remarkably quick and lively mind.

*  Fragment of a sentence in the memoir,  "Out the Window" by Donald Hall 
in The New Yorker Jan 23, 2012


  1. I have to tell you..... this made me giggle. Keep in mind, I am no longer in the middle of the mayhem, so when I am not sad, I am able to look at this and find humor. You will. I promise. xoxo

    1. Some days I can giggle, too, Cheryl. Yesterday we were both giggling as we discovered his shoes, which were on the wrong feet--again! It looked so comical..... Thanks for your promise. I'll hold onto that. ;o)

  2. Do you know the poem by Elizabeth Bishop called One Art?
    Here it is:
    One Art

    The art of losing isn't hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn't hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three beloved houses went.
    The art of losing isn't hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

    -- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
    the art of losing's not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.

    1. Is "losing" an art? A sentence? A challenge? Depending on the day, the mood and the item missing, it could be any of those things, I find. I enjoy the progression from keys to heirlooms, houses, to continents in this poem. As the items become more central, more personal, more global--well, it's true, even they can be borne. Blithe statements which stop in their tracks with the contemplation of "losing you". I am sure our current losses are bearable--they are being borne--but like Bishop says, when it comes to our own loved ones, it can sometimes feel like disaster.... Thanks for sharing this poem, Barbara. ;o)

  3. A few months ago I attended a lecture on Dementia. The first slide of the lecture was of a painting that was made by a patient who is retrospect would develop dementia. It was a colorful landscape with a young child playing by the water. Throughout the lecture, paintings of the same image done by this artist every few months were interwoven with the didactic information. Along with neurofibrillary tangles and Beta amaloidoisis there was blurring of the lines and fading images. The child disappeared . The last slide was an image that left the viewer straining to see something that was hidden behind a thick, gauzy fog. The audience was left with the agony of trying to discover something about the artist and her message though an impenetrable obliqueness. There are some things that words are not good at conveying.

    1. this story is so evocative! no words to convey the feelings I have, either. Thanks, CB! ;o)