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My Father's Grave Flowers

My father passed on December 5, 2011, only three weeks after Jason returned home from the hospital in remission from leukemia.

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Jason on His journey

You never think it will happen to you at such a young age. Jason passed away on June 25, 2012 from complications of leukemia, and I am a widower at 44 years old.

Dad

My father’s Alzheimer’s has taken hold much more than a few months ago.  If he even remembers that my mother is somehow related to him, by blood or marriage, he calls Mom by the name of his long dead sister.  He is also adamant about getting a job and helping out his also long-dead parents, and needs to go “home”.  In this case, home is where he lived as a young teen.

This is the “sundown effect”.  Symptoms of dementia tend to have a circadian rhythm, and usually are worse at sundown or after.  When I talk to Dad at other times of the day, he’s like he always has been recently – present in the moment, whatever that is for him.  He remembers when he is told, or at least imagines he remembers, what he did a few hours ago or sometimes a few days ago, on the better days but can’t remember how long ago it was.

At sunset, what I now accept as “presence” fades away.  While before he only spoke to us of stories from the distant past, even though they weren’t the stories we remember, and thought they happened recently despite the intervening years, now he lives out those stories daily around sundown.

My father started working to assist our parents before he was a teenager – nine years old sounds familiar.  Unlike many Newfoundlanders, we were not a fishing family.  I’m not really sure what we were, but fishing has never been mentioned.  At the age of 9 Dad took a job of some sort, and this is where his mind is now.

My father was a nine-year old 76 years ago.

The telephone next to me is flashing that it has a message from my mother.  The messages are often innocuous, but I know the day is coming when it won’t be.  This year, I’m trying to decide to go home to see Dad before the event we know is coming, the event in which he no longer responds knowingly to anyone, or if I should simply wait and go home after the next event in which he simply no longer responds at all, and his body finally gives up.

At a recent show, a woman surprised me as I was packing up to go home. I had just put my wire-wrapped hearts in their box, but hadn’t yet closed it. She looked at some bracelets and liked them.  Next she asked for my business card.  I turned away from her to get the card since it was already packed away.  When I turned back, I gave her the card and closed the box of hearts, packing it away.

When I started the show, I had 11 and hadn’t sold any.  When I counted the hearts as I prepared to put them away, there were also 11.

My next show was the first time since the last that I touched the box of hearts, and no-one else had touched the box.  As I laid them out, I checked against my item list.  The list had 11 wire-wrapped hearts.  The box only had 10.

I checked the rest of the items as calmly as I could, since I was almost ready to start selling and needed to stay as focused as possible.  When I had a break, my mind kept going back to the theft.

While theft is an expected loss in any business, the first to happen to me hit hard.  This is not a business where someone else designed and executed the pieces and I’ve just ordered them to sell.  I created the pieces myself.  The stolen heart wrap was from the first set of items I wrapped after being able to offer gold-wrapped (14K gold-filled wire) items instead of just silver.  That set of hearts were also an uncommon stone, a rare find at a gem show.  The stones, the wire and the design process was special to me.

I can’t pursue this person legally because although I can pick her out of a group, I don’t have any other details to start an investigation.  The theft will be written off as a loss.  Those are the practicalities of business.  That’s been handled.

The violated feeling that still remains isn’t so simple to handle.

Shrapnels of Time

In a long ago comment, someone asked me to talk about my family.  I doubt that person is still around, looking at my blog, but here’s a little piece of it.  I wrote this late last year, but it’s taken a while to be willing to put it on public display.

Shrapnels of Time

by Paul Bishop – December 3, 2009

My father is old
His memory is shot full of holes
Replaced with whatever seeps through
From earlier times

Some of them are false memories
He doesn’t know that
Still his emotions from them are strong
And he is defensive about being proven wrong

He doesn’t realize how it affects us
When he accuses us of what hasn’t happened
In places where he hasn’t been
Of how we have wronged him

Yet forgets our names in the next breath
But he may laugh with old stories
That are good even if not true or slightly off
And we smile and nod and pretend too

Love heals all wounds they say
But Alzheimers is a smoking gun

Plugging Away

There’s no new poetry to report, but I’ve been putting a lot of my creativity into my jewelry.

Exploring creativity in that medium is interesting.  I can see my love of symmetry and my almost comical inability to not make things without patterns.

I’m losing track of all my online places to update with my thoughts, and blogs.  It’s easier to just make jewelry.

http://www.bishopwireandbead.biz

Expect a change in my blog.  The poetry will still be here, but the focus will change to my current endeavour.

Argentium Sterling Silver Wire-Wrapped Quartz Crystal

Argentium Sterling Silver Wire-Wrapped Quartz Crystal

Easter – this is not stuff about the Easter Bunny, eggs or chocolate. This is about pure Christianity. If you aren’t comfortable with the beliefs, please be assured that I am not proselytizing to you. My poetry is an expression of my beliefs or inspiration. What you take away is your own perspective. Enjoy it as you can.

All of my Easter Poetry is on this one page, so it is rather long. They are currently not arranged in the order of the Passion Week.

RIDE OF THE KING

by Paul Bishop – February 19, 1998

He rode into Jerusalem
The mighty King of All
Palm fronds waving, shouts of joy
Echoed off the city walls

The people threw a carpet down
Their cloaks across the road
People singing “Hosanna!”
Could they know His heavy load?

On a lowly beast of burden
He came to claim His own
Jerusalem shouts His name
And tells Him to take His throne

But His throne is not of this earth
Less than a week shall pass
Before their doubt makes them flee
Their King branded for trespass

Crimes of love for humanity
The judgment swift and sure
The believers, shouting now
Will recognize Him no more

He rode into Jerusalem
He came to claim His own
But the Saviour, as was told
Rode to victory… alone

THE LOWLY TASK

by Paul Bishop – February 22, 1998
“Which of us is greatest?”
They argued as they walked
The Saviour remained silent
As the disciples argued and talked

“I want to sit on Your right”
“And I upon the left”
They did not understand the Kingdom
They were of humility bereft

Finally to the Upper Room they came
An uncomfortable silence fell upon
The twelve as they claimed a space
For private brooding, thoughts dwelling on

Tradition of the day stated that
The servant of the owner of a home
Washed from the feet of visiting guests
Dust of the roads on which they roam
But the room was found for hire
There was no servant, nor owner near
Nor did a prideful disciple stoop to the task
A servant’s countenance to wear

A lesson was about to be learned
To penetrate through disciples’ scowls
Striking at the heart as their Master
Took up a basin and towels

In silent wonderment and shame
They watched their leaders as he worked
Tenderly washing their grimy feet
The humble job that they has shirked

Peter refused the ministrations
But the Saviour insisted that to follow the call
The first must be last, one’s all becomes none
The greatest must first be servant of all

“Wash then my feet, my head and my hands”
Cried Peter, his guilty hesitation removed
And the Lord continued His lowly task
Tradition fulfilled with old truth proved

UNDER AN OLIVE TREE

by Paul Bishop – February 22, 1998
In the Garden of Gethsemane
A young man kneels and bows His head
The pain that courses through His heart
Living up to words, already said

The ancient elders prophesied
That this was the Man, born to die

“Could not this cup pass over me
But Father, if Your plan must be
I will accept this bitter wine
To show the plan of Your love to all mankind”

The disciples slept a space away
Unaware of the anguish there
Their teacher’s tears that stained the ground
How could they know, and would they dare

Their friend to stand beside
Or would they leave, Him denied?

And when the soldiers came that night
Disciples fled, hiding from the light
But the Saviour went His Father’s way
The Sacrificial Lamb giving Himself away

In the garden of my deepest heart
A young man kneels and bows his head
The pain that courses through his heart
Failing to live up to words he said

No one knew how far he’d fall
But he answered to The Call

“You took and drank Your Father’s cup
Now I beseech You, lift me up
This awesome gift I’ll gladly receive
And day after day, I’ll take up my cross and believe.”

CONDEMNED IN THE COURTYARDS

by Paul Bishop – March 5, 1998

In the house of Herod
And the palace of Pilate
At the viper’s den of Pharisees
The hour grew late

Questions upon insults
Threats upon mocking
Jesus withstood it all
While Peter the shadows was stalking

“Tell us if you are the Christ”
Jesus replied “Yes, it is so.”
“Aren’t you one of his followers?”
Peter replied vehemently, “No!”

“Blasphemy He speaks. You heard!”
The entire night passed away
Jesus was condemned by mocking trial
The rooster signaled the day

And Peter wept

FACES IN THE CROWD

by Paul Bishop – April 5, 1998
They gathered to see Him die
The Man who was condemned
He looked down with compassion
Upon His enemies and friends

To be invisible in the crowd
Some stood very far away
Afraid since they had run in fear
But the Saviour saw them anyway

Women sobbed at the foot of the cross
“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me”
Their Lord with selfless love replied
As He gazed on the sea of humanity

“Take care of My mother, John”
He said when he saw her standing there
What anguish Mary must have felt
To see her Son beaten and half-bare

Most Pharisees mocked His claim
In their self-righteous spite
I wonder where Nicodemus was
Now that he had seen the Light

The guards stayed near their posts
Gambling for His clothes
Or warily watching the assemblage
Of Jesus’ friends and foes

Thieves on the left and right
One acquitted, one condemned
The Betrayer was missing
Having brought his life to an end

In the faces of the crowd
How many had felt His touch
To be healed, cured, new life assured?
But now, how many cared that much?

“Father forgive them for this sin.”
“Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani”
“It is finished!”
And Jesus, the man, ceased to be

At the foot of the cross
One believer stood, a lone centurion
He professed to the faces in the crowd
“Truly this man was God’s Son.”

CRUELTY OF THE CROSS

by Paul Bishop — March 10, 1994
(a commissioned piece for the Salvation Army Woodstock Corps Easter Service)
Deep in the garden, ancient trees all around
Prayed the Saviour, his disciples slept sound
Then the glade was awash with swords and light
A kiss, a betrayal, the disciples took flight
And Christ was arrested, endured a mock trial
Was sentenced for blasphemy and heard Peter’s denial

“I DON’T KNOW THE MAN!”

Guards spat in his face, and struck him with fists
“Prophesy, MESSIAH…, who hit you like this?”
Battered and bruised they bound the man
And took him to Pilate, governor of the land
“I find no fault in him,” he said to the crowd
But turned Christ over to them, when their screams were so loud

“CRUCIFY HIM!”

Mocking soldiers twisted thorns for a crown
And pushed it on his brow till blood flowed down
Sneering they stripped him of his seamless garment
Giving him a purple robe, to further his torment
His back was laid open with whippings and lashes
They spat, and they struck and let his blood spill from gashes

“HAIL THE KING OF THE JEWS! HA!”

He was so weak, his cross such a load
The pain was too much, he collapsed on the road
Exhaustion flooded his body, but they would not relent
“Get up and get moving!” No merciful moment
Pain shrouded his body, sweat poured down his face
On the way to Golgotha, only one respite for grace

“YOU THERE! CARRY HIS CROSS!”

His hands were nailed, and feet as well
With spikes of pain each time the hammers fell
Raised above the crowd, a criminal on each hand
His body sagging and tearing, his throat dry as sand
“Water!” he called for, vinegar was given
Blood flowed from his side where a spear had been driven

“LET’S GAMBLE FOR HIS CLOTHES.”

“IF YOU’RE THE MESSIAH, SAVE YOURSELF!”

“COME DOWN FROM THE CROSS, IF YOU CAN.”

“MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?”

It was mockery…
It was cruel…
It was sadistic…
It was murder!

But in the redemption of sinful man
This suffering was part of Divinity’s plan

ISCARIOT

by Paul Bishop — March 9, 1991
Inside his traitor’s body beat a heart of stone
Bitterness, its dark red blood, hate, its ice-cold bone
Eyes that blazed in anger and cried mad tears alone
A mind clouded with rage, kindness was unknown

Thirty pieces of silver
How tempting was the thought
Thirty pieces of silver
Iscariot was bought

Within Gethsemane’s trees in evening’s coolest mist
Judas stood with Roman guards, his smile an evil twist
Then soldiers took one man away, the One Judas has kissed
And now he stood all alone, blood money in his fist

Thirty pieces of silver
Was it worth the cost?
Thirty pieces of silver
Iscariot was lost

Upon a hill called Calvary, the One betrayed was killed
Thorns in His head, nailed hands and feet, His precious blood was spilled
“It is finished!” was the cry and then the earth was stilled
Judas ran into the wild, his own gallows to build

Thirty pieces of silver
But blood had made them red
Thirty pieces of silver
Iscariot was dead

And is it so that we today are pushed by our own greed
To betray our own morality, and give conscience no heed
Can we let our wants die as farmers uproot the weed
To drop in the earth of our hearts faith as a mustard seed?

Thirty pieces of silver
Oh, how our wants entice
Thirty pieces of silver
Only God’s love can suffice

COMMANDS

by Paul Bishop — April 7, 1995
Flee now! Judas
Your dirty deed is done
Now you realize the awful fact
He really was God’s Son!
Was it worth those pieces
Of silver in your fist
Traitor! Traitor! Judas
You’ve condemned the One you kissed

Speak up! Peter
Or are you in fear
To declare allegiance to the Lord
And draw the soldiers near?
“Aren’t you a Galilean?”
“This man I do not know!”
Once, twice, three times, Peter!
Hear that rooster crow

Sleep not! Centurion
Ware the coming day
His disciples shall come in the night
And steal His form away
Your life lies in the balance
If they somehow succeed
Stay alert, Centurion!
Prevent this scurrilous deed

Weep not! Mary
Death is not in vain
Resurrection day is dawning bright
You’ll see the Lord again
His body was not stolen
As the Sanhedrin say
Fear not, Mary!
Jesus Christ is risen today

Wake up! Christian
Earth is deep in sin
Prepare to battle Satan’s forces
We will the victory win
Take the world news of Jesus
The kingdom is at hand
Rise up, Christian!
This is God’s command

NARD

by Paul Bishop – April 12, 1998
The sound of glass gently broken
The perfume filling the air
The essence poured at Jesus’ feet
And wiped away with her hair

She bowed in penitence humbled
In the presence of her Lord
She had given her earthly riches away
To gain an eternal reward

Some say it was extravagance wasted
It could have been used so much more
But things of Earth may have no worth
If compared to the riches in store

A year’s wages broken and spilled out
All her savings gone
But she considered it all gain
As with tears her eyes shone

“Leave her alone!” said Jesus
“She’s done a beautiful thing to me”
Anointing my body for burial…
“For that my child, I set you free!”

Can you do as Mary did?
Give all that you can, and can be
For in giving yourself, your greatest reward
Jesus the Christ sets you free!

AROSE!

by Paul Bishop – April 12, 1998
In the predawn darkness
A woman awoke and thought
She should make her way to the tomb
With spices she had bought
To anoint the Body of the Lord
In death His last repose
But the stone was rolled away
The angel said “Arose!”

Thinking the body stolen
Another woman wept
A young man approaches
She thought he the garden kept
“They’ve taken His body!” she cried
“Mary,” He said, and his identity was certain
“Go tell my brothers I am no longer dead.
Let them carry no longer sorrow’s burden.”

Peter and John were racing
To verify the words they’d been told
Could it be true? Was it for real?
To fulfill the words, a desperate hope
The promises that no-one else could have said
And meant with sincerity?
A folded cloth, an empty tomb
Evidence of reality!

And so it continued
Appearances and sightings
Not a ghost, nor a phantom
But Truth itself enlightening
And finally came He to Thomas
That last bastion of doubt
And when he touched those hands
His belief came in a shout!

And everyone knew He was alive
The miracles and other wonders
Indisputable truth
That the grave He burst asunder
All these things were written
So you can believe Jesus is the Christ
The resurrected Son of God
And in His name believing, have life
HAMMER

by Paul Bishop – April 16, 1998
He stood there at the foot of the cross
Hammer in one hand, spikes in the other
And he looked up into that face
Then looked away

“Nail him! You have your orders.”
Shaking, he placed the nail on His wrist
Lifting the hammer, he brought it down
Almost missing in his fear

But the hammer struck the spike
The spike struck wood through flesh and bone
The initial stroke came with anxiety
The second sounded detachment

Perhaps his conscience disappeared
hiding from the reality of the deed
And once he’s surrendered self-control
The hammer fell like thunder

How did he do it? That awful deed
The cruelest torture ever devised
Did he think He deserved it
To be killed, to be crucified?

Yet He defeated death
And rose to His heavenly place
But I wonder if He still feels pain
As a man’s wound throb?

Does he feel pain when I fail?
When I sin? When I fall?
When I give in to temptation?
Every one a blow of pain to Him?

I can’t handle it
Why can’t I get past the cross?
Why is there so much guilt?
Why must I keep remembering?

“Here take the hammer
Take the nails
He’s already died once for me
I don’t want to do this to Him anymore…”