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“Near the end of his life, my father proved to be, at his core, a very polite, chivalrous man. He walked the halls of the facility where he lived, introducing himself and shaking people's hands as he had done at Rotary meetings. He complimented the nurses, ‘You have a lovely figure.’ He could also eat an entire 2 lb. box of See's Candies in an afternoon, which requires considerable effort with stage five Parkinson's disease.”
—Jennifer L. Knox

Auld Lang Syne

Dad couldn’t stop crying after Kathy moved him into the facility. 
When she came to visit, he’d cry and say he wanted to die. He said 
the same thing to the nurses. This went on for about a month until 
the doctor put him on an antidepressant especially for Parkinson’s 
patients. The next time Kathy came to visit, she found him in the 
cafeteria, talking to some of the other residents and not crying at 
all—just enjoying his lunch. When it was time for her to go, he 
didn’t cry, but rather calmly escorted her to the car. “Do you like 
this car? My wife and I were thinking about getting one,” he told 
her. “That’s very interesting,” Kathy smiled, “because I am your 
wife.” Dad chuckled, “Is that right?” He squinted over the palm trees 
towards the freeway. So many cars. Busy busy busy. “Well, we’ll see 
you later, then,” he said, and shook her hand firmly, the way he’d 
learned to do at Rotary. What funny new friends he was making. 

Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer L. Knox. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 11, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer L. Knox. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 11, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox

Jennifer L. Knox is the author of Days of Shame and Failure (Bloof Books, 2015), The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway (Bloof Books, 2010), Drunk by Noon (Bloof Books, 2007), and A Gringo Like Me (Bloof Books, 2007). She lives in Iowa, where she teaches at Iowa State University.

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poem

When my father was nine years old, his mother said, "Tommy, I'm taking you to the circus for your birthday. Just you and me, and I'll buy you anything you want." The middle child of six, my father thought this was the most incredible, wonderful thing that had ever happened to him—like something out of a fairy tale

poem
New fronds unfurl from the joints 
of older ones, like fists slow to open
in forgiveness but will inevitably in 
forgetfulness—that kind of newness green 

as the green of new ferns snaking fast 
up the old hosts’ throats turning brown 
beneath the ever-creep without a sound (to us—
all we hear’s waves). The
poem
Riding in the car with my mother, I never graduated from the back seat to the front. Whenever I tried to climbing in next to her (“This is stupid—I’m riding up front”) she’d howl and swipe at me until I caved. That was how she defended her space. We drove around like that until I got my driver’s license: us two,