Mother Is A Verb

When my brother in law passed away, he was just 59. He died of ALS and frontotemporal lobe dementia. It was his sweetness that remained as his essence, as his mind and body slipped. I was honored and silenced to see this, and to watch his daughter tend him nightly, feed him and leave him feeling safe. I want to draw attention to this kind of dementia, but I want also to honor my neice at age 26, who mothered her father. Here is my tribute.

The Soul’s Midwife

Coming into this Earth body
Thick dark hair flowing
Mouthing her first wails
Leaving the warmth
of her Mama’s body,
her brown eyes found his,
green like the ocean
like a field in summer
looking down at her
falling in love.
Isn’t she beautiful? he said.
This is my daughter,
She is so beautiful.
He cradled her,
and sang her first lullaby.

Today, crippled in his Earth body
almost ready to leave
he looks up at her
face glowing with love
Isn’t she beautiful? he asks.
She is my daughter,
she is so beautiful, he says.
She spoons his food gently for him
He opens his mouth like a baby bird.
His green eyes are full of trust.
He knows she will see him safely through,
midwife his soul’s passage.
This is my beautiful Jessica,
he repeats, like a lullaby that calms him,
She is my daughter.

RAS