Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

To My Everlasting Shame

I did not stay at my father’s bedside, to be with  him until he passed. There he was, right upstairs in the bedroom, while I hid like a coward downstairs and out of sight. We knew it would be that night. The doctors had called the family in and said so. 

All his brothers and sisters, the aunts and uncles I grew up with,  had been pretty much staying at my parents’ house for those last weeks.  The pasta pots were always boiling. They brought Italian bread and provolone cheese and sweet salami with big green olives. Most importantly,  they brought the black humor which is our family trademark , especially during our darkest hours.  It sustained us and carried us.

And yet, there was an age regression that took place for me. At age 32, they were still the grown ups and I was like a child again. That’s just how the dynamics morphed. When it was soon to be time, my favorite aunt had a talk with me and asked me if I really wanted to watch my father die. She explained to me, 32 going on 8, that dying was not like in the movies. It was quite a frightening thing to see.  She encouraged me to have my quiet time alone with him, now in a coma, and say my good-bye. I did so. Then I walked out of the room and all his siblings and my mother went in and the door was firmly closed.

And so he died with his wife, brothers and sisters all around and me nowhere in sight. They later said it was an awful thing. Blood and God knows what everywhere. Even his brothers were shaken by it. It was not something I should have had to see, they told me. As if they had protected me from something.

But not long after, I realized it was my own father’s awful thing. I should have been there. I allowed myself to be shielded by my beloved and well meaning aunt with childlike trust.  I should have been there. I was not a child. I was not, in truth, protected or shielded. I was written out of the last line of the last page of his life.  No, we wrote me out. 

And I am so ashamed, sorry, and regretful… What if my father knew or sensed I wasn’t there, right through the invisible walls of his coma? My shame is this: that I, his oldest and most responsible child, should have  accompanied him on the final stage of his journey. I should have been there. 

No tidy ending to this post. I should have been there.  

(This post was inspired by a poem by Cordie entitled:  If I had it to do all again)

February 6, 2009 Posted by | death, family, Parents and Children, personal, Psychscribe's Essays | , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Lazy Poet

He went through life oblivious

To all good things

That were his fortune to behold

The beauty of a summers morning

The joy at seeing children

Welcomed back into the fold

The sight of two old people

Walking hand in hand

Or swallows heading southwards

In the sky

Never seemed enough

To stir his hand to writing

He’d just observe, in passing, with a sigh

And all this depth of wonder

Washed in silent splendour

O’er his heart

He never grasped the need

To write it down, and play his part

For there are wonders in this world

that someday maybe lost

We fail to tell about them at our peril…

…And the cost to each man’s soul

Each infinitesimal  amount

Diminishes by sad degrees

Just what we are about

So the old, old lazy poet

In the autumn of his years

Pledged to write of childhood dreams

And all his hopes and fears

But all too little, much too late

As preparing now to meet his fate

He watched the cloud formations in the sky

And he put aside his pen and let a tear roll down his cheek

Onto the empty page, the lazy poet died.

© Kev Moore, 10am, in bed, 11/07/06

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Art, Cafe Literati, death, Kev Moore's Poetry, life, poetry, random, writing | , , , | 13 Comments

Night Shift

Alongside the current themes of life, death and what we leave behind, I thought I would post this poem.

I’ve sat with the dying a good numberof times, both animal and human, and it’s a very moving experience. One friend (who was also a client when I did feet) I saw every day until about five days before he passed, and when my stepfather-in-law was dying last March, we took turns to sit with him.

The strangest time of all is during the night, especially after about 2am. The world is a very different place at that time. It’s also shown statistically that more people pass away at night than during the day, and more babies are born. It also goes without saying that generally dying animals pass away during the night too. I do not know why.

Night Shift

(for those who wait with the dying)

 

 

I want to hold back Death:

Impossible of course,

But every time I try,

Standing in the way,

Arms outstretched

                            As if to halt

A bolting horse,

It passes through

As if I, not it,

Were insubstantial mist.

And I feel a touch

Across my face

Of trailing cobwebs

Or frosted feathers

Stiff with ice.

by Viv

 

January 26, 2009 Posted by | animals, Cafe Literati, death, family, friends, God in our life, health, life, love, personal, religion, Viv's Poetry, writing | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mummy

  I so very much enjoyed and appreciated(with tears of strong and mixed emotion) Psychscribe’s Final Words, that I thought I would post a poem I wrote a few years ago, exploring death and immortality. My own feelings when I wrote it were very churned up as I’d been moved by something and by my own reaction to it.

The poem was started at Derby City Museum, perched on a step in the semi-darkness of the gallery where a massive dugout boat is housed, and then finished sitting in the light on a bench in the main shopping centre area an hour or so later when I’d had a coffee and time to think.

Mummy

 

He looks enough like my father

                       To make me feel very guilty

For standing gawping open-mouthed

At the shrunken leather features,

The hands folded neatly as if in prayer,

And the feet poking pathetically

From the unravelling linen.

I like to look but I hate myself

For enjoying it so much.

Empty eye sockets packed with cloth

Gaze blindly and forlornly back,

               The worn teeth slightly visible beneath

Withered and blackened lips in rictus smile.

                        He’s long beyond truly smiling

And even further beyond caring

What I, the onlooker, may see.

To end his existence as an artefact

Encased in a glassy tomb

Seems a form of hell far beyond

Anything he might have expected

Of his promised after-life.

But it is an immortality of sorts.

by Viv

January 25, 2009 Posted by | Cafe Literati, death, family, life, literature, love, personal, poetry, religion, Viv's Poetry, women, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room

 

 

“It’s strange how some rooms are like cages…” Paul Simon in The Obvious Child.

 

   Not always just cages but almost like holding pens. You enter them and things stand still while you wait for the designated outcome. Waiting rooms: we’ve all spent far too much time in them. Whether they’re called Waiting rooms or whether they have a fancier title….the wings, the sidelines, the vestry, dressing room, bus stop… they’re all still just waiting areas. When you enter them you become committed to staying till the waiting is over. No one forces you to stay, there are no locks and no bars, but how often do you ever see someone walk out before their appointed time? Not very often. There’s an unspoken contract that once you enter, you stay.

   Hospital waiting areas are the one people seem to spend most time in; due to the usual policy of doubling up the number of people assigned to each appointment, while you might be expecting to see the doctor at 10.0am, so is another person. They count on people not turning up to keep the place busy and it usually works, because even if you have to wait two hours, almost everyone will wait. It’s the same with trains as well. You have a fixed object in mind and unless you change your plans radically, that object usually remains the same. So no matter how late your train is, you sit and wait.

  What a waste of valuable time I can almost hear you saying! This is certainly true if you regard waiting as a passive activity, one empty of meaning and purpose. While there isn’t much to prepare for when waiting for a train, many other events we wait for actually need the waiting time for the event to work well.

  I spent a fair amount of time in the past backstage, waiting for a show to start. Of course, some of that time was spent in practical matters, checking props, sound checks and learning lines, but there’s always a moment that dawns when all the things you have to do are done and there is nothing to do but wait. And that is crucial to the performance. That funny little jumping of your heart as you hear the distant murmur of the audience arriving and settling down is the burst of adrenaline you need to be able to step out on stage. The hugs and kisses from fellow performers and backstage crew placate the nerves and bind you together in a fellowship as old as theatre; it tells you that you are OK, that things are going to go fine and that people are behind you. I’m not involved in that world any more and I have few friends that are, but I gather that there are very few performers who can walk cold from the car and onto a stage and give their best. I’d never be one of them, to be sure.

  The relatives’ room at hospital is another kind of waiting room; the place you are relegated to when dressings are being changed and when the consultant deigns to visit your relative. It’s also where you wait after the worst has happened. Have you ever noticed the boxes of tissues? They’re there for good reason. Last year, we had to rush north when a close relative was taken seriously ill. We arrived in time to visit him in the ICU and he was lucid enough to communicate with us. But overnight things deteriorated and we were called at 5am to say come now. He’d been moved to another waiting area, a single room off the main ICU ward. He was not conscious really and after spending some hours with him, I went with my sister-in-law to get some coffee and we were directed to the relatives’ room. I’d been up since 5am and Zoe had driven down from Scotland at 6am when she got the call, so we were tired and upset. I knew this stage could easily last days and I was shocked when less than an hour later when my husband came in to say his stepfather had gone. He’d never been one for waiting around in life and in dying, he had waited till we’d all got there, and had gone, just like that. Even the staff were shocked. So we all sat together in that waiting room, crying and drinking coffee and talking and even laughing, waiting for the next stage to come. In those waiting hours, we’d been preparing ourselves, in such ways that I can hardly begin to describe, for what we knew to be inevitable. I didn’t pray for miracles; we’d had our miracle when he’d been conscious and lucid when we arrived and the things that needed saying had been said. I’d been getting my head around what was happening, so I could deal with it.

  That’s what a lot of our waiting is about, or should be: becoming ready for what is next. It’s an active process in many ways, but performed often in a passive fashion. When I wait for a hospital appointment, I am not killing time; I am preparing my mind and my spirit to deal with what is coming. When I am waiting for a class to arrive, I am marshalling my thoughts and my materials and working out what best to start with. When I am sitting waiting at an airport, I may be watching and listening and observing and above all, thinking. Even when I am waiting for a bus or a train I am preparing, thinking about the journey and the day ahead and using the time to ponder ideas and enjoy the pause in my busy day.

  Right now I am in a waiting room of another sort; it has no special physical location and is more a metaphysical place. I’m waiting for plans and hopes and dreams to start to move forward. It’s a bit like when you sow seeds in the spring. You look at the pictures on the seed packet and you dream of those flowers or vegetables or herbs as you sow them, and after it’s done, you have a little moment where you stare at the bare ground and for a few seconds, you imagine the riot of colour that will ensue in months to come. No gardener hangs around much after that; you might come back a week later to check; to ensure the seeds are undisturbed by hungry birds, or to remove the rampant growth of new weeds, or maybe to peek and see if the tiny earthquakes have started that signal the sprouting of a seed here and there. Another week and you see the tender tip of the first shoots and you sigh with pleasure and anticipation and then go on with your other chores.

   That’s the thing about waiting; there are so many things you can do while you’re doing it. And when you do it like that, it’s never a waste of time, but rather a gift of time that you didn’t know you had.    

by Viv 

 

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Cafe Literati, death, health, life, love, personal, psychology, Viv's Short Stories, writing | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’m sorry, Mr Blonde

mouse

I’m sorry, Mr Blonde

 

 

“Oh no!  Not you!”

and as the words form in my head

I know how ridiculous they sound.

For if I didn’t want it to be you,

why set the trap in the first place?

 .

I guess, I just expected

you to be cleverer than that.

Mr Blonde.

 .

I’ve watched you run down the cable

from ceiling to floor

countless times.

 .

I’ve watched you, brazen

as you scan the computer desk for crisps

wash your whiskers and sit on the phone.

 .

I’ve known you were in the bin

as the dog stands, staring,

not quite believing what he’s seeing.

 .

I’ve found you, red handed,

at night time.  Flattened against the wall

in the bird cage.  Little blonde mouse-shaped cuttlefish.

 .

I guess I thought you were cleverer than that.

Being bested by the lure of peanut butter.

Small blonde body broken in the trap.

I’m so sorry.

Jenny

January 8, 2009 Posted by | animals, Cafe L'Arte, Cafe Literati, death, family, friends, Jenny's Poetry, life, literature, love, nature, personal, poetry, psychology | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dealing with Dad

By Kev Moore

Dad Royal Navy

 

Well, the time for this topic is drawing to a close, so it’s time I grasped the nettle and spoke about the relationship with my Dad.

 

Born in Matlock, Derbyshire in the thirties, he took the name of his father, George, and was christened George Vernon Moore. Almost immediately he became known as Vernon to everybody.

 

He joined the Royal Navy as a boy seaman at the age of 15, and was sent away to Crail in Scotland to begin training that would send a shiver down the spine of most kids today.

 

He rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, and left after 9 years service. I am absolutely convinced that this period of his life has shaped everything he is, and everything he has ever done. It has helped him in crises, such as the death of my Mother, when he fell into a regimented routine which he has followed for 22 years. His distress at any deviation from this routine is funny, frustrating, and sad.

He once asked my sister to accompany him Christmas shopping. (they live around the corner and do so much for him) Kaz told him she would make time when she was free, being a busy mother of two and with her own Xmas arrangements to make. He said, he needed to go later that afternoon, because he played snooker at the club between 1 and 3. She went bananas with him, and told him to stop being selfish. But you see, Dad’s routine is everything, and you have to fit around it. It is impossible for me not to draw a sarcastic comment from him if I don’t get up at 8am in his house, it’s almost funny, but becomes depressing.

 

It shapes his view of the world, his intolerance for lawlessness, his lack of liberalism. He would, even now , in his 70’s tackle yobs on the street if they were misbehaving. This, I don’t mind telling you, is a worry. If I was to pinpoint one visible positive from those years, it is his posture. For an old chap, he walks proudly, ramrod straight.

 

He has almost no capacity for change, a situation he encourages by choice, as he was a skilled electrical instrument mechanic. But he takes a perverse pride in ignoring the benefits of computers, email, mobile phones, DVD and video players. When he does get email, he prints them all off as hard copy. He bemoans the demise of the written word, which is laudable, but fails to see the benefits of email. I told him I’d written a short piece on the net about Benazir Bhutto, and he asked “why?” It is precisely this attitude in him that drives me crazy.

 

He is also incapable of showing love to me. He can do it to my sister a little more easily, I suspect, but he would never hug me, and would be decidedly uncomfortable if I moved to hug him.

 

I think he judges me by his own standards, and I am my own man. I hope I don’t judge my children the same way. I still believe that he thinks I failed by not having a “proper job”, despite the fact that I have performed all over the world on stage and television, been received by royalty, met and worked with my heroes and enjoyed such privileges as being given private viewings of Lenin’s tomb.

 

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Her name is Cynthia. My Father never entertained the idea of another woman after my Mother fell victim to cancer, save one lady , some 10 years ago, who, with cruel irony, went the same way in short order.

 

Cynthia runs the League of Friends Hospital shop where my Dad does voluntary work. She is a sandwich short of a picnic, and hilarious. She takes great delight in puncturing his pomposities, and enjoys putting him on the spot. Example: “What was that film we watched the other night, Vernon? It was almost pornographic, shouldn’t be allowed!” Cue my Dad, spluttering trying to maintain his legendary naval composure.

 

Cynthia came into his life at a fortuitous time. Quite by chance, an aortic aneurism had been discovered in his abdomen, which, without swift surgery, would have resulted in certain death. I glimpsed for the first time in him, a mortality, and worry. I didn’t see fear, but to see him worried this way….

 

Cynthia was incredible. She was there for him every day, she cooked his meals. More importantly, I think she gave him a tangible reason to come out the other side. I think for the first time in 22 years, he saw a future. Indeed , the operation was a success, and his life is so different now. They have dinner parties, go off on weekend breaks, have season tickets for the football. All this has transformed Dad, and slowly, very slowly, his edges are being rubbed away. But every now and then, he still slips back into the old self. He has never, ever, lent me his car, or let me drive it for instance. I have driven more miles, more vehicles and in more countries than most people, but I am still the wayward son.

 

Quite out of the blue, between Christmas and New Year, when I was over doing a show in the UK, he offered to drive me up to Sheffield, so we could meet my son half way from his home on Wakefield for a few hours. I was amazed, and thankful. But it’s a double-edged sword. Of course its wonderful that he agreed to do it, but isn’t it awful that I am so grateful for it, when he should be doing that for his Grandson all the time?

 

And you know what? Despite this generational war we wage, I love him.

Photos: 1)Dad in the Royal Navy, HMS Osprey,Weymouth. 2) Dad and Miki in his garden, Mickleover, Derby. 3) Dad and I, outside his house last summer.

dad-and-miki.jpg

 

Dad and I

 

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Art, family, love, men, Parents and Children, personal, photo, writing | , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Joyce Marion Moore

 Joyce Moore 

A child of the thirties

Derbyshire born

Unconditional love

Smiles, soft and warm

Loved by her brothers

Numbering four

To school she would send me

With a kiss through the door

I remember her freedom

As we left the nest

The new job she relished

Doing her best

But the tears that she shed

As I got my own place

Were as nothing to the rivers

That ran down my face

As my dearest, my Mother

Crossed over at last

And I’m scared that the memories

Will fade like the past

I try and I try to recall her sweet smile

But the illness that took her

Indiscriminate and vile

Intrudes on my thoughts

And its hard for a while

But with patience that image recedes from my brain

And there, in the light, stands my Mother again.

Copyright Kev Moore 2008

I wanted to write some words about my Mother, and well, out this came.

January 11, 2008 Posted by | death, health, life, love, Parents and Children, personal, poetry, random, women, writing | , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Morning Star is Dead…

A tragic accident occurred in Spain this morning, at 10am. A Star died. No, don´t panic already, it´s not Kev Moore.

Well, I had decided to make a new entry for The CCClub and to honour the day, I had served Kevin his morning milk coffee in the cup I wanted to present you today, a cup with a high sentimental value to him and me:

the “Morning Star Cup”

Who knows how and why it happened -I guess I just tried, like always, to do everything at the same time- but the morning star was suddenly on the steps under my big boots and an awful noise arose, you know, like the kind when you crush a snail…

No need to say that we are in mourning here today, and I would very much appreciate, if everybody here observed a minute of silence in memory of the dead morning star…

Don´t ask me now to tell you the story of the morning star, it would break my heart a second time… Another day perhaps, or ask Kevin…

A morning star is dead

MIKI, Spain, (Albir)

November 1, 2007 Posted by | Art, coffee, culture, death, drawing, family, food, friends, humor, life, love, Music, news, personal, photo, photography, politics, random, writing | , , , , , , | 3 Comments