$urprises / Legacy


nine bucks 
tucked inside 
a pocket folder, 
twenty-five more stuck in a bag
of wooden hearts, and
six gift cards
for meals,

the key
to the bank
that looks like a book
and rattles most intriguingly.
Behold! Another
in bills

to my share
of bank accounts, bonds,
IRAs and more—my parents
generous in death
just as they
were in


for the chance
to make a difference, 
to fund a well that will provide
three hundred people
water that’s
safe and

that could
last more than
forty years, beyond
my lifetime even. Imagine!
Life-giving for them—
for me, too.
All is

I’ve been tithing my share of the money from my parents’ estate and feel incredibly blessed to be able to help so many people and organizations. There were several Christmases when I made small donations in my parents’ name to clean water efforts, so when I came across Thirst Project, I knew I wanted to fund a well in their memory. Thank you, Dad and Mom! Peace to our s!

Just Saying

What I felt in each instance [when her parents died] was…regret for time gone by, for things unsaid, for my inability to share or even in any real way to acknowledge, at the end, the pain and helplessness and humiliation they each endured.

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

How easy
it came to us—why
doesn’t Dad
just [insert
action here]: call the doctor,
or get off his butt

and go up
and sit with Mom, or
say something,
or agree
to wearing Depends. Perhaps
it depends on who

is doing
the asking and who
the doing.
This saying
is also true: you don’t know
until you’ve been tried.

The one-year anniversary of my dad’s death is coming up this Monday. He was (not) dealing with his own cancer throughout my mom’s time on hospice. Peace to our s!


May He support us all the day long, till the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then in his mercy may He give us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the last.

Cardinal Newman

The one-year anniversary of my mom’s death was this past Saturday. The interlude in the poem occurred a few weeks after she died and lasted only briefly, as my dad went downhill pretty quickly after that. The quote above was on a sympathy card I received. Peace to our s!


A feeling from
out of the blue:

Mom did what
was hers to do

I felt a lovely
buoyancy too

That vanished
as Dad’s needs grew.

True Story

Not a yarn:
that my Grandma Boos
taught me how
to crochet.
Yarn: the many, many skeins
of my mom’s, now mine,

coasters and afghans
to brighten
others’ days,
tangible love handed down
three generations.

My mom’s acrylic yarn is what I’m using to crochet small afghans for Project Linus, which distributes new handmade blankets to children in need (for example, in hospitals). I’m fortunate that there are Project Linus drop-off boxes in the JOANN fabric stores in my area. For the coasters, I’m using up her 100% cotton yarn, which can take the heat of a hot mug. There’s enough yarn for at least 200 coasters–it brightens my days, too, to be able to give them away. Peace to your !

my sunshine coaster pattern here

The Last Laugh

known for
such lines as
“I cracked a funny”
and “It’s a long way from my heart.”
Bathroom humor was
a favorite.

found by
my sister
(no joke) slumped over
the portable commode, her heart
having given out
just after

Funny, odd–but also, I think my mom would have gotten a chuckle out of it herself. Peace to our s!

So Close

I’m at home
four hours away when
my mom dies
I wish I’d been there. Oh well.
That’s life/death for you.

I’m grateful
my siblings at least
had the chance
to kiss her
goodbye before her body
was taken away.

Now with Dad,
I’m right in the room.
We’re watching
his chest rise
and fall (yes? okay), unsure
how much time he has.

I misjudge,
head to the kitchen
a daughter
and return
an orphan. Seriously?
I missed it again?

Even if
that’s life/death for you,
I still feel
like a child
who’s been treated unfairly.
Do you hear that, God?

Peace to your !

Dad’s Decline / In One Word…

Two poems capturing some of the experience of my Dad’s death. Peace to our s!

Dad’s Decline

He went from walking unaided 
    to walker to hospital bed.
Bypassed the disposable underwear, 
    moved straight into diapers.
In one week! Like a prodigy 
    in the art of dying.

In One Word, How Would You Describe
that Last Week with Your Dad?

At the time—
challenging, wearing.
brutal. Yes.
It’s a strong, visceral word.
No more questions, please.