Thursday, August 7, 2008

O Captain! My Captain! -

Walt Whitman (1819?1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather?d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up?for you the flag is flung?for you the bugle trills;

For you bouquets and ribbon?d wreaths?for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck
You?ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor?d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


Anonymous said...

Ray, thank you so much - that was the perfect poem - Whitman, Wordsworth and Yeats are all devastatingly eloquent on loss. "Oh Captain! My Captain!" is haunting in its beauty and stunned sense of loss. This is a beautiful and poignant memorial as are all your writings about your own mom, Clara. I'll keep it forever. Thank you.

After five days, when the hospital couldn't wean my mom off the breathing tube, I had it removed as per her wishes. They thought she would die within the hour but it's been almost three days. I'm bringing her home, perhaps today, with hospice.

What they failed to tell me was that when they removed the tube, they also stopped feeding and stopped the antibiotics - neither of which caused discomfort. As soon as I discovered it, I had them restarted. One of the doctors put up a huge fuss - claiming it was either/or - comfort care (hospice) or active medical intervention - nothing in between. I've met with the ethics board twice now - and they are claiming that they will revise the protocols - we'll see. Why do they make it so hard to help the elderly live out their lives as they choose? How dare they assume that any part of that choice is theirs?

Anyway, I'm hoping to get her home, today or soon, for whatever time she has left.

Thank you, Ray, for your elegant and comforting thoughts.

Sharon Denney
Seattle, WA

Anonymous said...

Sharon, I am sorry about your mom. I am writing to say that you might want to also closely supervise hospice. With my relative, one of the hospice workers wanted to start morphine when my relative was not in pain. If we hadn't stopped the worker, my relative would have started the actual dying process sooner than she did. In other words, there may be a tendency to over-medicate.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience with the feeding issue. I mean, how would they feel if they were hungry or thirsty and it was denied? I mean, if the person is not able to eat any more, that's one thing. But to not feed a person who is capable of eating, why isn't that starving someone to death?

I know, this is a controversial topic. I guess that's why I'm bringing it up.

Sharon, again, my condolences.

Ray said...

Thank you all for your comments and E mail.

How lucky that Doris might get tio come home, the hospital is such a cold un personal place.
my father died there, we took him there for a check up, and when we came to visit him he was dead, he died alone and the nurses did not even know. He died alone and in terrible pain from the way his fingernails had dug into his skin.

I really regret that I wasn't able to be with him to share the most important moment of our lives with him.

Anonymous said...

thanks Sharon for sharing your story on your website with us. Those that stick with their parents until the end are the real winners.

Those that don't and profit from the misery of others are the real pathetic losers.