Night Visitors

I hear a commotion down the hall. I think I recognize my father’s voice, but I’m too groggy to zero in on it. It’s dark, except for the bright lights outside the door.

The voices become clearer. My father is arguing with the nurse, saying he wants to see his daughter, his daughter who is in the hospital following a tonsillectomy.  I hear him say that he couldn’t sleep, so he brought my stuffed bear for me.

He sounds angry, and I register embarrassment that my father is raising his voice at the people taking care of me. The nurse, however, is insistent that he can’t just barge in after visiting hours and that he should come back tomorrow morning. I hear slamming doors and then silence.

The nurse quietly enters my room and puts the bear in my bed. When she leaves, I grab for it and snuggle it. It’s not just any bear – it’s the bear my dad bought me after my mom dragged me away from it in the store, telling me it was too expensive. A few months later, I had found it on Christmas morning in the bottom of a big empty box “from Santa.”

Today, I am the one going to see my father after visiting hours. After spending the evening with my mother, his room is a stop on the way home. He, too, is often sleeping when I sneak in the employee entrance, but nurses today know it’s better medicine to get a goodnight kiss from a loved one than to toss and turn in a fist-clenched sleep. I try to bring him special treats that I hope he’ll enjoy. And I can’t help but note that I too have sounded angry at his caregivers from time to time in my zeal to protect him.

The circle remains unbroken. And the night is a little less dark thanks to night visitors.

-Excerpt from They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad by Patricia A. Nugent

I still have the bear, but no longer my father.

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High Heels

I awoke from the ether-induced stupor, alone in the cold, sterile facility. The pain in my throat told me my tonsils had indeed been removed. There was seemingly no one around.

I lay there waiting, not sure what would happen next.  Still groggy from the anesthesia, I drifted in and out of sleep. My dreams even frightened me, featuring surreal events and creatures. I was alone and scared. I was seven.

Then I heard her coming. Heard her high heels clicking rapidly down the hall. I knew they were coming my way, instantly knew that was my mother. She breezed into my room like a breath of fresh air, exuding her typical high level of energy and self-confidence. She hugged me, and I could feel the excitement of her world of business and politics emanating from her professional garb. I knew that she had postponed or interrupted something important to be with me, knew that I was more important to her than any unfinished business. She stroked my head and gave me ginger ale until I drifted back to sleep. But I still heard the distant clicking of her high heels when she left.

Today, more than 40 years later, it is my high heels that click down the hall. Click down the hall of the nursing home where my 87-year-old mother now lies alone. It is she who awaits a visit, awaits someone to comfort her, to assuage her fears and loneliness. To give her a sip of water. I am the one who brings the sights and sounds of the outside world into her little room. And I am the one whose heels she hears getting fainter as I too soon leave her alone again.

 “I heard you coming,” she said as I entered the room tonight.

“I know you did, Mom, because I remember hearing you walking down the hall when I was in the hospital”. I told her the story of my recognizing the sound of her high heels after my surgery. She cried, and I cried. We cried for all the places she could never go again. We cried because our collective world has gotten so small. We cried because our time together is drawing to a close.

It is now my turn to take care of this woman, to pay on a debt I can never fully repay. It is I who must now miss meetings and appointments and parties because she needs me. For there are many places my high heels take me, but none as important as to my mother’s bedside.

-Excerpt from They Live On: Saying Goodbye to Mom and Dad by Patricia A. Nugent

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My New York State of Mind

My editor called it “provocative.” I called it “My New York State of Mind.”

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Re-thinking the Rosary

Click this link to read my recently published essay about my journey away from and back to the Rosary.

https://www.timesunion.com/7dayarchive/article/Catholic-rebel-discovers-Rosary-as-female-15837210.php

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Swear to God

Click below to read my latest published article about the upcoming election. Hope it helps you sleep better, pray more, and swear with intent.

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A Yawn is Better than a Gasp

Read my latest blog post by clicking on the link below.

A Yawn is Better than a Gasp

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Stolen

Click below for list poem published in Pendemic online journal. 

What we’ve lost – with hope for better.

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Church

Inspired by an empty church on Easter morning…click below to read the story.

Church

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Have a Heart

“Ya kinda don’t want to mess with heart issues,” she said. “Our patients realize the heart is an either/or proposition. They want it working right. Especially now.”

Read more by clicking on this link:

Have a Heart

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Never Been So Grateful

Never been so grateful to go for a walk

As when I recovered from an injury.

Never been so grateful to have a dog

As when she found her way back home.

Never been so grateful to have friends

As when I’ve felt abandoned.

Never been so grateful to be home

As when I’ve traveled far.

Never been so grateful to be grateful

As when I witnessed its power.

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