My dad was sick during the first week of this month with a mild case of pneumonia. The medicines upset his heart rate and sugar levels. Unfortunately, at 82 it's difficult, if not impossible, to recover from so many issues. Dad was released from the hospital on Friday but experienced cardiac arrest on Saturday night.
A week later I believe my parents are reunited in heaven. It's been a long difficult week, but I can not mourn their deaths. I can only mourn my own loss. At the wake service we prayed a rosary, and I read a poem that I'd written for his 70th birthday, which follows below a photo taken at their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2009.
A Lifetime of Learning
When I was little, you towered over me, speaking in a big, booming voice
that meant business, and I knew security and safety. Sometimes I sat in your lap,
leaning into the crook of your left arm, as you read the newspaper, and I looked
at the pictures understanding the importance of learning and education.
As I grew bigger, your quiet determination taught me that I, too, could
accomplish my goals. You insisted that I learn to live with my sisters, that mean
words and fighting were not ways to get along.
As a teenager, I watched you hug and kiss Momma and learned how
relationships work. I witnessed your kitchen romance, heard your quiet laughter,
and saw longing when one of you was away, and I wanted a marriage of love and
laughter and longing for myself.
I began another family, finding a man who fit into ours. You accepted him
and cherished him and loved him, and he held you in great esteem, knowing
respect, seeing the importance of marriage in your example, wanting to stay, to
be a part of something wonderful and safe and lasting.
I gave life to others, doing the best I could with them, knowing that my best
was the only thing I could offer: my love, the safety and comfort of home, hard
work, education. I make mistakes, I apologize, I keep trying: you taught me how.
Now we talk about our lives and you teach me that I come from more than
just family--I share a destiny and past with a people whose culture and pride are
a part of me, and I try to share that with others.
So now, as you reach for the pinnacle of your life, I honor you. The
memories and images I hold of you have given me lessons and direction. They
help guide me in difficult times and help me to appreciate good times, family, and love.
They nurture me and ground me and enlighten me. I am today because of you.
Written for my father, Joseph Riley Bourque, for his 70th birthday, December 28, 2000.