labor of love
Every day I watch him,
as he passes my office window
on his daily walk.
It is akin to watching a turtle.
He moves so slowly, carefully placing each foot
with every step he takes.
It is laborious for him, that much is obvious.
I wonder if he does it for them –
they seem so happy on this little jaunt around the block.
They are up ahead, talking and laughing,
while he walks so slowly, dutifully,
behind them, keeping watch.
They only walk this one block,
I don’t think his old body could carry him much further,
but still, his tail wags the whole way.
If I could call my brother,
I’d call him on the bad days and
he’d hear it in my breathing
before I even said anything,
and he’d ask,
I’d say something like,
“It’s dad,” sniffle, small sob,
“he was too weak to sit up in bed today.”
And my brother would sigh, and say,
“he’s lived a good, long life”
and all the other clichés,
trying to comfort me
in the face of impending death.
If I could call my sister,
I’d call on the good days and
before she barely got out “hello”
I’d say, “It’s dad!
You should have heard him today,
talking about when he lived in California and
that time he drove all the way to Mexico
just because he wanted an authentic enchilada.”
And she’d smile a smile I couldn’t see –
a smile inherited from him –
and we would laugh,
remembering all the times we’d heard that story as children.
But I don’t have a brother,
and I don’t have a sister,
and dad doesn’t even remember
who I am anymore,
let alone that he once lived in California
and loved Mexican food.