Sep 27, 2013

A Lesson in Dying

A Lesson in Dying from Poetry Repair

a collection of poems by Elena Arosemena

Artwork by Dede Petitpas

A Lesson in Dying 

The curtains drawn
the left side pulling on the antenna

Johnny Carson showing 

The ironing board ready 
a monologue spills from the screen 

While parents try to educate
"Ovarian Cancer" is all I hear 

A red shirt lays wrinkled, 
the iron is never plugged in. 


Today is my Mom's birthday, JoAnn Catherine Rodewald Arosemena. She would have been 85 years old. She was born in Rockwell City, Iowa, September 27th, 1928.  Her parents, Carl and Minnie Rodewald. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM ! ! ! 

This poem is my recollection of a night in the late spring of 1972 when I was called to my parents bedroom at 404 Fenoak Dr. in Barstow, CA and was told that my MOM could possibly be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 

What is written in the poem is the frozen memory from that late night, 41 years ago.  The television, a huge square metallic box with rabbit ears, the curtains thick, my DAD always had the blackout type curtains so he could sleep during the day if he had been up for 2 or 3 days with his work. 

And the ironing board, it was out of place. My MOM never left work undone or partly done, the entire set up when I walked in the room unsettling, it invaded  the sense of order and calm that always radiated with my Mother. 

In 1999 I put together a collection of poems and titled it, Poetry Repair. Dede Petitpas who is a friend of one of my co-workers, painted 12 original pastels that complimented some of the poems, her art and her interpretation of the poetry amazing.  I gave her no direction other than to read the poems and paint what came to her, it was one of my favorite projects.  Dede and I collaborated on a second collection, The Shell Hunter, I will share some of her art in future posts.   

This post is not intended to make the reader sad. This post is because it is part of my life, this day will forever be a frozen movie reel in my mind. While I am not sad today,  I miss my MOM everyday.  She was an amazing person, an amazing wife and the best MOM EVER !!!!  Ana, Roger, Carlos, Tobias and myself, we were blessed with all the days we had her present in our lives. We are blessed to have her everyday in our hearts. 

For the record, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the summer of 1972, she died May 10th, 1974, the Friday of Mother's day weekend. 

Mom, I love you and I miss you ! ! !  

Your daughter,  Elena