Lesléa Newman, best known for the classic Heather Has Two Mommies, has also released a book of poetry called I Wish My Father, which deals with the death of her father.
After her mother died, care for her father mostly fell on Newman, even though she has two brothers. But she called that responsibility a blessing.
Newman’s poetry tells the story of her father finally retiring as an attorney as he approached his 90th birthday. She writes with humor and poignancy as she tries to see things through her father’s dimming eyes.
At a restaurant, an older man at the next table recognizes her father’s school ring. They went to the same college. He’s impressed with the man’s sharp vision. But then the other man’s son puts a bib on his father, and Newman notices her own father turning away in sadness to give the older man his dignity.
Her father continued to work as an attorney well into his 80s. One judge tells her father to stand near the bench. Obviously, her father reasons, the judge made the request because he was having some trouble hearing.
Her father’s pain in selling the home he’d lived in for 60 years is Newman’s pain as well, as she moves him into assisted living.
He finally agrees to move and give it a year. He died, she notes, 11 months and 27 days into his stay at the facility.
While each poem carries some sadness — getting rid of her mother’s clothes that her dad kept in their closet for years after her death, visiting the neurologist to get a dementia diagnosis, driving — there’s warmth as each step approaching his death draws father and daughter closer.
I Wish My Father, along with I Carry My Mother, a previous book of poetry chronicling her mother’s death, are wonderful works for anyone with aging parents or are dealing with their recent loss.
— David Taffet