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John McCormick Nov 2010
It was the winter my mother discovered her identical twin sister was dying. It was a season of falling into knowledge of another's body failing; the body you were born with. All that had been sculpted in a body was slowly being chipped away at day by day by day. It was a season of maybes. Maybe she tasted Ohio snow instead of morphine. Maybe behind her eyes lies another world no one has access to. Maybe she is already gone and what remains is pantomime of living. Maybe she will die before Christmas.

It was the winter I saw my mother touch someone on a regular basis. She smoothes and strokes her sister's arms as if they were soft sheets. Through sunset in the eyes to moonlight in her hands, she does this. Maybe she even whispers "taste the snow". How literal we take our lives when they are taking us on our final journey. Where do we receive direction on what to do. We don't. We go on nerve endings and will power and love we contain in the corner waiting for moments like these.

These are contained, constrained paragraphs - no combustibles here. Precise and to the point. What snakes beyond the lines that are laid out? That is the real saga. It is winter and there are a city of birds outside the window. They flock when my sister-in-law arrives with her bread crumbs. This is a parenthetical detail to the main narrative. But surrounded by family and hospice workers. Women brush their hair, people buy tickets to movies, fill their cars with gas. She does nothing but walk towards herself. Sometimes slower than before. This is her task. The dark wing she flies under and the walking, walking, walking, walking. No cold ash in the mouth here. Yes, Ohio snow and the scent of flowers in the room.

It is morning and she lies in her bed. It is afternoon and she lies in her bed. It is evening and she lies in her bed. Some say "resting" but I prefer ruminating in a roomful of memories. You are thinking that death is delicate, soft and slow and nothing dangerous about it at all once you have decided it is the road you will meet yourself on. This is no abstraction for you nor art one must be taught. Instinctual, the I in you meets it full faced. The moon glows from the bulb in the ceiling, silver speckled stucco are the stars you peer at. You do not question it. A thousand windows ago were birds water rock sand desert wind. Now there is your own pale reflection where once there was the world forever, I shall not entirely be emptied of beauties, the gift of your small breath, the drenched grass, smell of your sleep, lilies, lilies ...planetary wanderings through the black amnesia of Heaven. You touch still remember still feel still. Ambivalence rests in your red needle slammed arms. But there is beauty in blood too. The pulsing, veins and rivers of it. The deep underground river you sleep in. You there on your back eyes to the moon lit room, not a relic but a woman avoiding death's lip to her ear, the shadows on a face, the abyss of absences. The moon mingles with the image of a woman warm and flushed with life and history and future.

My aunt remembers names lucidly. The keeping of names is sacred. Before naming things and people was wind stone snow.

How to explain there are the perpetually open graves. One need not give oneself over to death. Fluid in the brain circling like liquid around a planet need not destroy you. Your bones might turn to tin but it still does not claim you. Creaking when you breathe means you still breathe. Yours is not the stone face of the woman who does not feel. The mirrors may seem to fail you, but you face them anyway. You live now in a ponderous house, with strangers, family, friends, co-workers flooding in. "Where am I"? you ask. In the citadel of love.
John McCormick Nov 2010
When I was young, I knew not much
Of things like hating, hurting and such
But as I grew, I begun to see
What this world had for me
I didn't like it, not one bit
But these things shall never quit
So, I swore I would not let
Any of these things to me affect
But slowly I begun to get
Those feelings of wrong that would not quit
I became a person I didn't want to be
And realized the world had affected me
So, now to God I must pray
To change my life, to lead my way
John McCormick Nov 2010
I would like to say just a few words about my father. However, I could speak forever about him. There are some things you may already know about him and other things you may not. But I think there are some things everyone may want to know about him.

My father, James Franklin McCormick, Senior, or Frank as he preferred to be called, was 69-years-old and a role model in demonstrating a strong work ethic. He worked at his job at Dayton Stencil for 44 years and was getting ready for work the morning he had a stroke. He worked almost every day even though he was 85% disabled from war injuries.

He obtained a broken back in the Army while preparing to go to war. After his partcail recovery, he was injured again while serving overseas in the Korean War. That's the reason he is being buried wearing his Korean War ball cap. He was proud to be a Veteran.

In addition to wearing his Korean War ball cap, he had a Brown's ball cap he also loved to wear. The Browns were his favorite team.

My father didn't just work ******* his job, he also worked hard at being a great father and husband and taking care of his family. He was always there when someone needed him and always offered his unconditional love and support.

My father loved being a dad and a grandfather. He loved his children and grandchildren very much and made us all know it.

His love for my mother was always evident. He was always at her side through good times and bad. He was there through her many illnesses. When my mother had cancer and it was clear she wouldn't be able to drive for a long time, he at the age of 64, got his driver license for the first time since his war days so he could help with all the things that she had always taken care of. After he got his license, he bought a huge Ford truck that he loved driving

I feel blessed that I got to spend a few weeks with my Dad before he passed. I felt it a blessing to watch my mother with my father and see all the love they still had for each other. They celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary on September 12th, 2 days before he passed. Their love and commitment to each other is inspiring. They had almost 50 years together.

In his earlier years, my father was very competitive in any sport he participated in. He always tried to be the best and usually was. He loved golf, bowling, pool and poker. Although that last one really isn't a sport. In recent years, he loved to play Bingo. He probably would've gone to Bingo every night if he could have. He won often and had a lot of friends there. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing.

My father had a great sense of humor and would try to trick or fool you at times. However, you could always tell he was up to something by a certain mischievous grin he would get on his face that always gave him away.

Even in his last days while in the hospital, before he got very ill, he would try to tease you. If you sat too close to him on the bed or touched something that was connected to him like a wire, he would let out a moan like you hurt him in some way. But then, there you would see that grin.

I believe that was his unselfish way of comforting us while we were comforting him.
Now you know a little bit more about my father. Like I said before I could go on and on about him.

The last thing I want to say I would like to say it to my father.

"Dad, you were loved and appreciated by all your friend & family. Thanks you for being the man you were. You have helped us and will always help us to be better people for knowing you and having you in our lives. Your love and devotion as a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother and a friend will carry us and strengthen us until we all meet again. You will be deeply missed. Thank you, Dad."

And thank all of you for being here today and for your support.

— The End —