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sardines poem dverse

April 8, 2014

When Dad and I drove down to Florida
Nursed my little grey Corolla
Over each West Virginia hill
We had to hurry for Marshall was dying.

We sat by his bedside and watched Penn State
Though how he woke to see the game I’ll never know
But football and passion burn in places that surprise
Even in a tired emaciated old man

We didn’t stay long, the death rattle
Told us it was time to go, I lingered
Squeezed that once strong hand and said, I love you
You were kind, my second father and walked away

I admit, I don’t recall who won the game
But on the drive back we stopped and got sardines
Sat in a park and ate sardines with bread and sharp
Cheddar cheese and never said a word.

In my pantry I always have a couple cans
You never know when canned goods might come in handy
Sometimes I open one with bread and sharp cheddar cheese
And ponder the strength of kindness


From → dverse, poetry

  1. There is a quiet dignity to this beautifully sad poem about the end of a loved one’s life. Very much along the lines of Hemingway.

  2. From acts of love the feeling good lasts long, that is for sure. I loved the way you pictured it.

  3. Heartfelt poem.Pondering the strength of kindness. I agree with that sentiment.Such a gift to be give !

    • He was a great man – I only saw him every two years as he worked in Saudi – we would play chess, starting when I was very young – the attention of an adult for that time was precious. When I was about 12, I spent two years studying chess openings and tactics to be ready for him. He walked into a buzz-saw that next visit.

  4. it’s amazing the things memories will link to and what we will do to hold on to them…I’m sure I have my own can of sardines waiting to be open… okay not sardines ’cause I don’t much care for them much…

  5. Glenn Buttkus permalink

    to /ponder the strength of kindness/–oh yes, a killer close. Taste, olfactory memories, landmarks; all can be involved with, or augment events, and become our treasured “thing”; strong emotional narrative, and a fine use of the prompt.

    • yes, what triggers our most vivid memories – scent, taste, a sound – and then sight

  6. The treasured memories that become attached to food – thank you for sharing this.

  7. it’s interesting how some treasures aren’t really treasures in and of themselves, but they become so because of what (or who) we associate with them. Marshall must have been a wonderful person!

  8. Goodness me, this was so poignant – a snapshot of an important part of your life, mingled with food. I must confess, I can remember very little about what I ate on the day that my dad died, but I do remember this: as a change from our normal hospital visiting routine, we decided to leave the hospital, go home for a quick meal with my step-sister and her husband, and then go back to sit with my dad later in the evening evening. We had pre-prepared meals, nothing fancy, just heat and eat, with salad. Then I went back to hospital with my step-Mum, just in time to be there when Dad passed away. If we hadn’t broken from our normal routine, he would have died on his own. It was completely unplanned.

  9. This reminded me of my own father passing . . . that death rattle is hard to hear. Our senses are so intrinsically linked to memories, beautiful write.

  10. Food always brings memories to me. This was powerful and you captured it well.

  11. For me its corned beef, smiles ~ Love the personal share and food does bring back those memories ~

  12. Interesting how some foods trigger memories, and also how some memories always come back when a person thinks of certain foods. Your story was poignant. Lucky you to have had someone you considered a second father.

  13. This is a poignant story, Bill! Interesting to see how one event created a new habit for you.

  14. Poignant story —.

    I can handle sardines straight off the can – has a certain bite to it.

  15. Nice, and interesting how memories get triggered by foods, smells, tastes. Not a fan of sardines myself, though 🙂

  16. Oh such a poignant story – amazing that he watched the game with the death rattle already happening. I could hear the silence as you ate sardines and cheese after, both lost in your thoughts. I am still driving a little Corolla which is running years beyond when anyone could have reasonably expected it to give up the ghost. Toyotas run forever. The other day a huge side to side stabilizing bar/pipe fell down on the road. We just tied it back up and off we went. A sardine budget kind of car! (I love sardines.)

  17. How great to have sardines that always bring you back.. Sometimes that happen… And there’s food I would avoid for the same reason.

  18. A treasure of a memory to keep….the ritual a tribute to him….he must have been a good man. I like the details of the game.

  19. mmm…food def can create those places of memory and bring back a time…esp one with such strong emotions attached to it…interesting the details we attach to those moments as well…and your keeping sardines handy as well…used to eat them as a kid…cant stand them now…smiles.

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