(Dad wanted to go to Hawaii just one more time. At 93 when he bought the tickets he was raring to go. But there just wasn't time. So these poems, written on Maui after dad had passed on, are dedicated to him.)

      Facing west the setting sun, bright and shining in my eyes 
      As I wait for the Maui sunset. 
      What is it supposed to be?  Why is it so special? 
      It's just the sun going down over Molokai 
      Chasing away the heavy dark clouds that look like rain. 
      But how does the sun, the dark clouds and the island shadow 
      Make a sunset? 
      And then it happens, an hour of changing light, 
      Flaming orange and red and streaked with brilliant yellow 
      As though the clouds of heavy blue just couldn't resist the sun 
      And turned to flame. 
      Now it's dark again along the rocky shore. 
      The lights gone out across the channel. 
      And on the Maui side just the tiki torches to light the rocks 
      And accent the white foam of the breaking waves. 
      The heavy clouds are dark again against that other island. 
      Just the sound of the waves endlessly breaking on the shore 
      To lull me to sleep and dreams of another Maui sunset. 
      Parasailing, like my heart 
      High, aloft and free, 
      Reveling in contented bliss 
      Watching the rolling breakers 
      Rolling in to Kimo's. 
      Lunch on the terrace 
      Looking at the channel between me and Molokai. 
      Wondering, is it ok? 
      To feel this good, this well, this blissful. 
      Reassuring Hawaiian music 
      Talking with the trades. 
      Clean sounds, simple melody 
      Quieting, superbly calming. 
      Small boats, anchored 
      But still moving softly on the sea. 
      Faint taste of lemon on the sliced tomato. 
      Eating and savoring every mouthful. 
      Wondering where the taste goes 
      When we savor nothing 
      And hardly feel it going down. 
      But this is bliss, knowing the taste of it 
      More than just living. 
      This is lunch, this is Maui, this is Kimo's. 
      It's 6:35 am -- just 24 hours since Dad died and I am home.   
      Yesterday when Celia and Lana woke me up at 7 to tell me he was   
      gone the morning was hot, not cool like today.  I remembered the  
      night before when I was sitting with him "The Lord will take him  
      when it's time for him to go" the nurse had said as I looked at  
      her for some indication of what I should do.  I wanted to stay,  
      but I was so tired.  My eyes kept closing and I was afraid each  
       time I opened them that he would be no longer breathing, that his  
      ancient form would be still, this time forever. 
      The nurses changed shift at 10:30.  She was the night nurse and,  
      of course, she knew that we were waiting.  "My name's Avon Webb"  
      she said.  "That's my name too," I responded.  "Webb, that is," I  
      added quickly. 
      "My father died when he was 65," she murmured, "and mother just  
      died last year." 
      I was grateful for the conversation.  I had been alone with him  
      for about an hour and the feeling of helplessness was starting to  
      surface again.  We were the last of a parade of family sitters,  
      brothers and sisters who had done the vigil for a week night  
      after night.  But last night it was three of us from the South  
      who had sat quietly, Jose to the left of me in a high backed  
      rolling chair, never saying a word, but remembering, no doubt,  
      the year he had spent caring for him, cleaning, dressing, walking  
      him and doing all the little things of life that are required  
      just to make the day begin and end.  And Cousin Wynne to my  
      right, weeping now and then, and occasionally crossing the room  
      to the bedside to touch his forehead or his hand as though test- 
      ing for temperature.  Once after the nurse had checked his vital  
      signs she asked, "Does he have a fever?"  The nurse said without  
      emotion, "100.4," and left. 
      Dolores, the charge nurse, had tried to be of comfort.  "He's  
      going," she had said. 
      "How can he live with blood pressure 84 over 46," I had asked.   
      "Pure will power," she responded and then as an afterthought,  
      "I'm off at 10:30, I hope he doesn't go on my shift."   
      I wasn't startled or bothered by the comment.  It was so offhand,  
      totally without emotion, simply a statement of a tired person.   
      But I felt differently.  As the hours passed, I was ready.  Then  
      the two aides who accompanied the charge nurse on her earlier  
      rounds had come again and as Dolores had instructed, taken the  
      vital signs and shifted the unmoving form.  "Every hour and a  
      half now," she had said.  I watched their faces for a sign as  
      they did their work, they told me nothing.  it was only their  
      actions that spoke, gentle movements.  The young large, blond  
      woman took his inert hand and rubbed it slowly, "It's going to be  
      all right," she said quietly to the silent man. 
      It was almost four months to the day, less a week, March 19.  It  
      is strange how a date becomes etched in your mind.  I discovered  
      him asleep when I arrived from LA, looked in, said "hello" and  
      when he didn't awaken slipped silently from the room to let him  
      sleep.  I reported back to mother, "He's sleeping so soundly I  
      couldn't wake him.  I'll tell him I'm here later when he wakes  
      up."  And that was almost four months ago.  During that time I  
      thought just once that he knew I was there, but it is possible he  
      still doesn't know even though since then I have told him many  
      times that I was there.  Later over the months whenever I was in  
      town I also tried to say goodbye, but it was hard because there  
      was never any acknowledgement of my presence.  But I didn't stop  
      rubbing his back and talking and trying. 
      At nine o'clock I called George.  "We are at the hospital," I  
      told him.  "It looks like a few hours more."   
      "Shall I come down?" he asked.  
       "I don't know, George.  It could be hours or days, but I don't  
      think it will be long, his breathing is so shallow and now he  
      pauses every so often before the next breath.  The nurse says one  
      of these times the pause will just go on and that will be the  
       "I was there all night last night", George said.  "Do you think  
      you'll stay all night?"   
      "I don't think so," I answered.  At 10:30 I suggested Jose take  
      Wynne home and come back for me. 
      I sat there for a long time, alone, just watching the erratic  
      breathing and listening to the slight rattling in his chest.  I  
      took the cue from the gentle nurses who had taken his hand as  
      they murmured quietly to the unmoving man, and got up and walked  
      to his side.  I took his hand and rubbed.  The hand was cold and  
      I followed up the arm to the shoulder where finally the cold  
      ceased and it became warm again.  And I talked.  "It's all right,  
      Dad." I must have said it thirty times, but in my heart I was  
      saying,  "It's time to go, take him, Lord.  He's ready." 
      At 11:30 I was in the chair again and my eyes kept closing.  I  
      can't do any more here I thought.  I got up and walked out in the  
      hall, looking up and down for a nurse.  Avon was with another  
      patient.  I saw her from the doorway and waited.  When she came  
      out I said, "I think I'm going home.  I can't stay awake any  
      longer."  And I wanted inside me to tell her I wanted it to end  
      for his sake, but I couldn't say that.  But she read the thought  
      and she looked at me in that quiet hallway and said simply in a  
      country way, "You go on home, when the Lord is ready, he'll come  
      and take him."