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Elegy for Pops

Elegy for Pops

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Published by: Ilene Dawn Alexander on Aug 22, 2014
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Dreams Between Us: Elegy for My Father 
Rather than learning from our parents and ancestors how to live intodeath, and even beyond it in a spiritual sense, we attempt to create awayfrom death, and thereby away from life as well.Greg Mogenson,
Greeting the Angels
Having passed through dreams and nightmares bringing me images of cousins who died or were wounded in Vietnam; having navigated riddles from a well-read, unschooled grandfather returned to dreams to illuminate
 as an
  would have to learn if  was going to attend graduate school and have a career as a teacher; and having learned that dead friends and relatives would !ump into my dreams for more than their own ends,  am convinced that dreaming is my way of grieving. "nd  than# $ersephone % goddess of lost souls % for this guidance. &hese elegiac dreams provide me with a psychologically imaginative means for resolving grief; for internali'ing da(s irreplaceable senses of humor and family; for engaging the spirit of )dna so that
 remember old tales that  can tell as new human stories; for animating in me the particular strengths of individuals  have loved % strengths  have needed to carry on, to develop in navigating my own healthy human development. Most of all, these inhabitingsouls guide me in understanding a concept Greg Mogenson articulates in this way* +e help the dead to inhabit death; they help us to inhabit life. e are as much their angels as they are ours.+
learing my head from a !arring wa#e up,  sat in the middle of the couch, pulling the worn-almost-too-thin cornflower embossed comforter from !unior high years to my chin as if the night were a mid-winter with /-below pre-dawn wind chills rather than a
late summer 0 a.m. holding still hot air to the ground at the end of a fiery wee#; inside, air conditioning iced the air and sealed out sounds from a world not focused on my father(s dying. 1omething was amiss and  was blin#ing my eyes clear enough to focus toward my father(s new room in the house. &wo wee#ends before  had helped hospice wor#ers turn my old playroom into the place where my father would % to say it as bluntly as we #new it % die. &his wee#end  slept on the living room couch a do'en steps away from the o2ygen machine(s whoosh-whir, whoosh-whir, whoosh-whoosh cadence pushing manufactured air into the poc#ets of my father(s cancer congested lungs. " do'en steps from the couch to the playroom. 3or me, an hourly cycle of 45 minutes sleeping, then 65 minutes at $ops( bedside whispering stories, offering water or medications, staunching sweat with soft cotton rags and ice water. My mother slept upstairs, the hospice-loaned intercom turned low but connecting her to any urgent tone in my father(s voice during the night.  made these nighttime tre#s toward the solitary light in the house so that my mother could have rest at night, and to ease my father(s after-midnight restlessness by maintaining a pattern of human presence and interaction that lin#ed evening to morning,erasing night.  " dream. &his sleep pattern had not erased dreams. 7es, that is what had !arredme from sleep. 8nly fifteen minutes since (d been in $ops( room, glancing from the couch to the cloc#; in that instant  saw my mother wal#ing from the hospice playroom*+9ad o#ay:+ the only calm uestion  could as#.+1eems your dad had a bad dream. He was pounding on the front door at your  "unt Helen and <ncle Herman(s house (up on the hill,( he said, trying to get them to (let me in( during a drowning rain storm=.++=.and they wouldn(t,+  began, +because it wasn(t (your time( yet.+ +7es,+ she faltered, +that was the end of his dream.+ +>o=that wasn(t the end of the dream,+  pic#ed up. +&he dream ended with
$ops as#ing me why Helen and Herman wouldn(t let him into their house, why he was (still here drowning.(  stammered something about there being things for him to do here before that door would open, that Gram and  weren(t ready to let him go yet. t was my dream, too.+ $ops? dream had merged with mine, at least one of us !oined by Gram* confluent dreaming % !oining, mingling, meeting together, coalescing. 9reams with Hannah, the mother and grandmother, between us. My grandmother had died bitterly !ust ten years before, reproaching her careta#ers, both people whom she had reared and loved, for leaving her to die in a slim hospital bed with no history of bearing the bones and luminous flesh of her people. "ndus: My father, great uncle 9ave, and  % the family members who had been #ept away when the eldest removed her from the homeplace and refused to inform us that these were Gram(s final days: hat had she made of our absence: >o voice would tell us now what she had wished for us % thought of us % in that anguished anger. >o words we could spea# to one another would soften all that we were forced to read in her corpse, that immobili'ed flesh fatigued by acrimony, abraded from anger.  had no dreams at her dying or !ust after her death; instead, for several years nightmarish confusions of bold colors, familiar photographs and solitary, random words moved alonga loop behind my eyes. Gram became a dream image, first, finally, as my father was about to receive a #idney transplant, nearly five years after her death. n this dream,  found perhaps the clearest picture ever made of my grandmother % the voice e2actly right, the house dresstruly pin# and the cotton hose rolled !ust to the top of her shins, the e2cess twisted into asmall #not at the outside of each #nee. 1itting at the #itchen table, loo#ing at me and the bird feeder outside the south-facing window, Gram sipped from an ivory-colored cupof strong blac# coffee. ith the window behind my left shoulder,  spun my cup in circles on the formica table, glancing at Gram over the tops of my glasses. "t once, she

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