Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Dad Story

The Heart of My Father
for Dad on his 90th birthday

Over and again
Tone Codispoti, age 77
you asked your cardiologist 
          for a pig heart.
You were only half kidding.

At 77 years old
it was a habit to read
articles of cutting edge 
in Diabetes Forecast
and watch the evening news
when Peter Jennings 
          and Dr. Tim Johnson
introduced stories
of medical breakthroughs.

It turns out we humans
          are brothers to pigs
where our hearts are concerned.
Already common,
leaky human valves are replaced
          with pig parts.
God knows, your valve leaked profusely,
backing up into your chest.
With hope and wonder
you told stories of experiments
where entire human hearts were
being replaced with those
of our piggy friends.

Your heart had seen too much.
Too much sorrow at the loss
of both sister and father
when you were fourteen.

Too much ache and wonder on Tinian
when war brought the atomic bomb
onto the tarmac
and you sneaked aboard a plane
to get a peek.

So much pride
as each of your eleven children were born.
Then rent for the two babies
who didn’t survive.
How could your heart take it,
carrying your bloody blue son away
wrapped in a sheet,
leaving your wife grieving in bed,
alone after the miscarriage?

Your heart swelled
in pride, watching
the first of your offspring
accept his USC bachelor’s degree.
Then be ripped
as that same man lay stiff,
a gurney bearing the weight
of a body thrown from a Jeep,
smashed by a drunk driver.
Anguish bled from your lips
in the cry,
“My son! My son!”

This same heart grew healthier
driving alone
from southern California to Moscow, Idaho.
You quit smoking
cold turkey
on that journey to a fresh chapter in your life.

Your heart floated with laughter
as you raised, in turn,
each infant grandchild high
over your head,
then slowly lowered
them close to your grin,
only to raise and lower and grin again.
It guffawed
as your eighth granddaughter
sat in your lap,
slapping your bald head
with palms and kisses
in a way your own brood
never dared touch you.
Your pulse echoed
your chortle
as grandchild #16 chirped,
“Grandpa, I have a question…”

The vision of building a new business
swelled your heart
with possibility.
Years later, that business sold,
attempting a transition into retirement,
that faulty valve gushed
as “My Emily,” succumbed
to a failed kidney.

Further trauma arrived at Halloween.
The first of your heart attacks
sent you to a Spokane emergency room for a day.
I stayed by your side, massaging Lubriderm
into your cracked and calloused feet,
speaking heart-to-heart
of the pain you inflicted
in my childhood. We offered
each other apology, forgiveness
and redemption.

Three months later it flooded over the coffin
of your eldest son
as you stood alone in grief
sighing, “Oh, Pablo.”
My brother fought a long battle with cancer.
Hard as it was to see him
lying silent, face shrunken and sallow,
torso swollen with the deadly mass,
dressed in Dodger blue,
you accepted the end of his pain.

You never did get that pig heart.
The doc said
your body couldn’t take it.
Your days of experimenting with life
were over.

A week after your boy’s funeral,
your heart gave out completely.
You landed in the same hospital
where three floors away,
five of your children entered the world.

Now it was our turn to visit
to pace
to watch
to wait
to hope
to fear
to speed to when the call came:
Emergency Bypass Surgery.

You never quite awakened
from that anesthetic,
though you did hiccup for hours,
your fingers working to squeeze mine
as I sat vigil.

After you died,
I peeked under your gown
to see staples in your chest,
so insensitive to your desire
for a renewed heart
ready to reconcile with my siblings.
I placed my hand on your sternum
in silent prayer,
then kissed your cooling forehead
in farewell,
my own heart doubled
over, punched in the gut.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lemon and Lilac

A year ago today, I visited Falls Park to see the annual torrent that happens during spring runoff. Not only were the falls beautiful, but the roses at the park entrance were in full bloom.
Watercolor Rose

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Phlowers and Fotos and Digital Distortion

I installed a new quick-n-dirty photo editing program today ... then started playing.
In the Spotlight

I can have some simple fun with this!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Approach

Clouds Over Hawaii

In September 2009, I flew to Hawaii to help my sister through a difficult time. This is what I saw from the air as I approached my destination.
[ click photo for a larger view ]

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Country Club AM

I have a new goal: Thursday as Photo Day

I got a new digital SLR camera that I want to learn to use. Plus, I have a bunch of old photos that need some massaging so that I can share them with others. So I plan to use Thursdays to do a bit of learning and editing.
 October Morning

 Today I worked with some photos I took in October, 2008

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pause a While

Sometimes you just have to slow down
and look at what you really want.
Let the waves of time wash over you.
~ Maureen Reynolds, Cooking My Life

Wave Wash

In Sept '09, my sister's long-time companion died. I went to Hawaii to help her through that horrible week as she buried him. It was my first and only trip to Hawaii. We went to a beach where she and her guy used to hang out. I took this photo there as she stared into the waves.
[ click on photo for larger image ]

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Through the Gloom

There's a bright side to even the darkest clouds.

It's simply a matter of finding a new perspective.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Out of Sight; On my Mind

Last February, all these little hidy holes were exposed.
At the River's Edge

Now, due to the spring runoff, the river is flowing high. This tangle of root and rock is completely submerged.

[ click on the photo for a closer look! ]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sunday Morning: Vignettes at the Falls

I marvel, sitting on the rocks overlooking the power of Post Falls crashing through the wide-open floodgates and into the narrow canyon of the Spokane River. The wind hurls the branches of new growth at my elbow, then calms again. A parade of locals have made this pilgrimage to witness the annual phenomenon of Spring Runoff. Weathermen say Lake Coeur d’Alene, upriver, is only six inches from flood stage.

Post Falls - Spring Runoff 2011

A small child, wrapped in his mom’s protection, cries. There’s fear in his voice at the power unleashed before him. He sits on her hip, clinging to the fabric at her shoulder.

A middle aged woman wraps her left arm around her aging mother’s waist, steadying her against the impending vertigo.

Tourists read the plaques, learn a smidgeon of our history, then point at the power station and gears, explaining the mechanics to the kids. They take photos of each other with the green torrent at their backs, and then mosey on to the next landmark.

Families, fresh from church, gawk. The starched dress grows limp, the child-size tie now askew, the woman’s heels, far too high and narrow, slip between the planks on the wooden boardwalk. They huddle together at the railing, awash in God’s wonder, then shield their eyes as clouds uncover the mid-day sun.

The mist billows from the tumbling onslaught. A northern breeze pushes it against the south canyon wall. Moss and lichen cling to the slick rock, six shades of green.


All that mars this landscape are the young folk squinting into their cell phone screens, voices billowing to push past the falls’ roar. A tall skinny man with droopy worn jeans drifts by, acrid cigarette smoke wafting into the late Spring breeze.

A small coiffed cockapoo cowers against the fence on the far side of the boardwalk, her leash a barrier to passersby as her owner gapes in awe, leaning on the railing that overlooks the drop-off.

A 50-something grandfather turns and gazes at me, his back to the railing, unconsciously toying with his granddaughter’s Barbie. His eyes ask, “What are you up to?” I smile, eyes and pen returning to my notebook.

A child climbs the rock next to me and exclaims to his mom, “It make me thirsty!” Then he jumps off the rock and skitters down the boardwalk to get a closer look and feel the spray on his face. He opens his mouth wide and sticks his tongue out, trying to taste the river the way he tried to taste snowflakes just two months ago.

A young mother pushes a stroller up the small incline, concurrently attempting to corral her four-year-old son. She is more terrified of the water’s rush than he, but is putting up a brave front so he can experience this spectacle first-hand.

I marvel. An inordinate number of pants with striped side seams stroll past me. One is accompanied by the soft rhythm of an aluminum cane. Another swathed around the hips with white polka dots splattered on black ribbing. That’s a lot of look!

Feel the Power

Small birds circle and dance overhead, some in pairs. Their wings beat ferociously through the air currents the falls generate, then spread wide to soar over the calm river above the floodgates.

A 20-something girl climbs the ramp with her young husband. Her abdomen is swollen with child beneath the broad horizontal stripes that circle her waist. It won’t be long, I suspect, until her floodgates open, bringing forth her first-born. A whisper of a smile creeps across my face as I watch her waddle down the path to the duck pond.