Category Archives: pops

Ill of the Dead


The first thing I told the ER nurse,
was that you were too much of an asshole to let
something like a stroke take you down.
Except, they don’t really tell daughters
in the middle of the night,
how bad the hemorrhaging is.

I am not sure how to speak ill of the dead.
I only wish that besides the air they pumped in through
your trach, and the fluids they pumped through the iv,
the meds that flowed through your central line,
they could have also dripped in forgiveness.

I would stand on your left side,
to be out of the way of nurses
but you couldn’t feel me there.
So I would brush the sweat off your forehead,
and will the fever away.

If only intention was all it took-
because there was enough stubborn between the
both of us to fill that 8×10 hospital room.

But, cantankerous does not fix the entire paralysis of
one’s left side, does not stop the shutting down of kidneys
or cease the bacteria from becoming pneumonia.

But it will wake you from a sleep that has lasted twenty-six days.

Shook your hospital bed,
pounded it on it with my insignificant fists,
and goaded you into one more fight.
Yelled at you with the only voice I had left.

It took you only twelve hours to answer back.
Looked me sideways in the eye,
and showed me you were done.
Asked for every tube, line and iv,
to go away.

And when I leaned on my little brother,
What do we do now?
I’ve been fighting with him my whole life,
I’m not going to today. 

ICU moves slow – has its own timezone,
except when there is no more time left,
and then you’re looking for just one more second.

When they shut down the machines
I thought it would be quick –
But Pops, you were waiting for something,
and it wasn’t old hyms for me to sing,
or Willburys’ tunes
or even one last brush of the forehead.

Sixteen hours through the night,
till they said, you didn’t have to be in that little room anymore
because this was a room to make you well –
So we wheeled you off to the light of hospice –
A room with great windows,
Pine trees almost like home-
and there was sun.

I kept singing, held your left side,
useless as it was. Amazing Grace,
how sweet the sound –
your mother taught me that one –
then Sang the other
one the one you walked me down the aisle to.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
take these broken wings and learn to fly
all your life.   You were only waiting –

It is hard to speak ill of the dead,
but with your last breath,
and single tear,
And how I stood so damn brave,
didn’t crumple,
till you were long past gone
Old man, you must know-
I am long past forgiveness now.

Fired up. . .ready to go. . .


Pops used to do this all the time, pack us into the car when it was still dark in the early morning, and bring us off on one adventure or another.  Off to the farmer’s market in Hartford to get all the flowers to plant after the last frost. Off to the balloon festival, to watch the balloons fill and rise with the sun. Off on a six hour drive to DC, in the middle of the night, to be first in line to get in line for tickets for a White House tour.
Today, on the only day you are allotted more sleep, we were up before dawn. Coffee was brewed, camera batteries were charged, snacks were tossed into bags. We are on the road and headed to Concord to a Sunday campaign rally.
We are bringing our busiest of boys ages three and five to see two presidents.  We might be insane, but it will be an adventure.

The Well-Marked Trail


Yesterday, yesterday I was behind two people younger and far more in shape than me, as we made our way through part of the Robert Frost Trail.  I’ll be honest, if you were my friend, and you asked, “Tara, what would you like to do tomorrow, on your day off, while the kids are in day care, and the sun is shining?” Sitting in the garden at Esselon would probably be my first answer – while doing nearly seven miles of hills and dales, my last.  It’s not that I don’t dig nature – or love a pretty look-out, or enjoy  conversations that meander like the trail –but hiking, it makes me feel old. Read the rest of this entry

The story I never wrote down.


On March 20th of last year, I wrote this –

So – this weekend, Pops has been adjusting to the trach and slowly coming off the sedation. The respiratory therapists have been lowering the assistance he gets with the ventilator. . . . He’s still pretty out of it, but you would be too if you had been on drugs for the last three weeks – He got a new bed today so he will be able to sit up more. The rehab placement that he will use to be able to relearn how to use his left side or compensate without it, may still be a couple of weeks out — but we are getting there . . . He is still kicking around some sort of infection, but all-in-all, things are better than they were a week ago. I’m hoping to get to sit with him and watch UConn beat Duke on the way to the FinalFour- and maybe even hear him swear about the weirdness that is the officiating once Duke is on the floor.
Lynn, Corey, and I want to continue to thank everyone for their love and prayers – for your visits in the waiting room, for your meals at the house, for your cards and notes and messages.  This is the hardest thing we’ve ever gone through, and we are so grateful to have all your support.
much love and hope,

But I wrote that with trepidation…

I had waited for my dad to come out of it the days after his trach surgery – to be more aware – to see me – and when on Saturday he didn’t – when he didn’t respond when I brought the seed catalogs into his room to read – to talk about spring- to talk about rebirth – to make gestures of life – when he didnt’ open his eyes by the time I left that saturday – I was worried. Read the rest of this entry

Last year


There is no way today won’t suck.

      But Tara how can you start the day thinking with such negativity.?

Sorry – but it’s been a year since a stroke took my father’s life.  Yes, yes, he lived in the ICU for 27 days after – but this does not change the fact that  a year ago today,  a little blood vessel burst, and the hemorrhagic stroke that followed, took his life away.

-Took all the power from the left side of his body – caused his breathing to go off kilter, caused him to aspirate.  The aspiration meant intubation, the intubation lead to pneumonia.

Pneumonia didn’t let the brain heal.  And when the brain can’t heal – system after system begins to fail.  There were kidney problems and rejected blood transfusions, central lines collapsing, and a fever that just wouldn’t go away.

Today. It’s been a year today. Since my father woke up, and like every other Sunday went off to breakfast with his wife’s family.  That Sunday, my mother happened to have my sons staying with her. And she called to see, if Pops wanted to see them.  And that morning they all ended up at breakfast together.  That’s what I cling to.

Every time I get stuck in some endless loop of the ICU – like a movie I can’t stop re-watching -every time I can only see his trach, and the IVs, and the monitors, and the ice packs–  That’s when I think his last morning was spent with my sons-  eating their pancakes together, crawling over  his lap- calling him PopPop. And I think- even though we hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks, there was part of me with him that morning.

That night, my brother would zip my father into his fleece, get him ready for the ambulance, as the stroke pulled the life force from him. That night, I would watch LifeStar  fly my father into the hospital as we headed south on Rt. 91.  That night, everything would change. Everything.

And I haven’t been the same since, and I never will be again.  And today – as much as I count my blessings, and my friends, and my family – as much as I count each individual ray of sunlight — today, today is just going to suck.

a completely random and assorted list of the crap I am thinking about right now

  • I am getting another tattoo.  Yes it has been 16 years since the last one. Yes, I might have to realize that I am no longer 19. But no, I don’t care.



“Normal things make you feel normal,” my Mom said that to me in the middle of a panic attack one night. I was in Boston, she was home. We were connected through a hundred miles by a phone line.  ” ‘Normal things make you feel normal’, Gram said that to me once in the middle of the only panic attack I think I ever had”.

Dinner. Pull out all the stuff, work like the French chefs do. Mise en place. Everything in its place. Pretend that everything isn’t out-of-place. Read the rest of this entry

Seven Stages


They say there are seven stages of grief. I’m in the one where you dig a little hole in your house, and hope never to have to come out. I haven’t returned an email in two weeks (sorry). I haven’t graded a paper in nearly three (eek).  And people keep saying it’s fine, you do what you need to do, and me, I don’t feel fine. I feel less able to mother, more able to anger, and entirely lost in a sea of condolences.  I would trade every card, and bouquet of flowers, every nice thought, gift sent, and compliment paid on a eulogy well done, to not be in this place. Read the rest of this entry