Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Poem for My Brother

I was thinking  of my oldest brother, Ray Council, today. He died several years ago from complications of multiple myeloma, a  cancer that forms in the plasma cells. He fought it for three years. I'll never forget the day he and his wife, Gail, came to my house and told me they had some bad news. I couldn't believe it. He was the rock in our family. His bravery touched me. He never showed one bit of self pity. 

He was diagnosed too soon after his retirement. He and Gail had made plans to travel and enjoy life. I wanted him to have time and freedom to play, have fun, since he had always worked hard even as a young boy. He chose not to take chemotherapy that would ruin his quality of life. He had planned to go to China, and they did before he was too sick to make the trip. 

I moved to North Carolina, and he came up every summer for the festival on the square. We had wonderful visits with other family members who joined us. He became a big fan of a local group, Butternut Creek and Friends, and wanted to see them perform when he came up from south Georgia.

The times I cherish most are those trips he made, alone, to see me. We spent hours talking, sharing and planning my role in our family business when he was no longer here. Although I had worked with him in many capacities through the years, I'd not known how much trust he had in my abilities. 

I wrote a poem during the last days of  his life. I want to share it with my readers.

Early Morning Hope
                    for Ray

Fog like a band of cotton
obliterates the lake.
Gunmetal faces of mountains
float against a pale sky.
Naked arms of December trees
fade into the ashen scene.

Winter's late this year.
In the front yard, a red oak
clings tenaciously to leaves
that should have fallen long ago.

You still hang on, hairless,
face puffed from steroids
arms and legs, bones barely covered.
You question, wanting good news,
knowing you can only borrow time.

The clouds lift. We see more clearly
the silvery blue water on Lake Chatuge.
Truth hits us square in the eyes. 


DJan said...

He sounds like a wonderful person. I am so sorry for your loss; I hope his wife has been able to adjust to life without him, too. Blessings to you, and thank you for sharing that poem.

Vagabonde said...

It is difficult to lose a loved brother such as yours, one who was so dear and close to you. I hope you found comfort in finding the right words in your poem to your brother. I can feel your sense of hope and grief in your beautiful words.

Abbie Taylor said...

What a nice tribute to your brother. I'm sure his memory still lives on.

Joan Cannon said...

Simplicity like your words has the impact of real truth. I'm an only child, but you show me what I've missed. Thank you for sharing.

Glenda Beall said...

Thank you all for reading and commenting on this post and poem. I am very blessed to have you all as friends and readers. When we have lost a loved one we relate to others who have felt that same pain. I knew that many of my readers would feel the kinship.