The last time my father goes to the doctor prior to his death, the doctor asks, “So Mike, how are you feeling?” Dad’s answer is a little unorthodox, he says he grew up in Paducah, which is right on the river. It’s at a point where two rivers—the Tennessee and the Ohio—come together. After their confluence, one can plainly distinguish—for about a mile downstream—between the Ohio, the far side, which is dirty, brown and muddy, and the Tennessee side, which looks much cleaner.
Meanwhile my stepmom, Cathy, judging by the content of Dad’s reply, thinks, What the hell is he talking about? Given his frequent episodes of dementia and his recent diagnoses of Alzheimer’s, it isn’t uncommon for him to go off on some random tangent.
Dad’s doctor has a clear frame of reference into what he is talking about; apparently the Doc.’s wife is from Paducah so once when they were there visiting, he’d gone to the riverfront and seen firsthand where the rivers join up and the remarkable difference you see in hue as they flow side-by-side until they become one. Having explained this, the doctor says, “Yeah Mike, I know exactly where you mean.” Then Dad says, I feel like I’m down in the muddy side.
8 thoughts on "Confluence"
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Jude – Good to read your poetry again!
What a fabulous poem–the narrative flow, the unexpected ending. Sad and yet full of beauty.
And now I want to go see that confluence!
Jude, glad you’re contributing this year. I remember Cathy telling this story. Really classic Mike. ?
Great retelling, Jude! Your dad visited the river EVERY time we visited your grandmother, Penny in Paducah. The two of them were drawn to the river as to a dear old friend.
Great retelling, Jude! Your dad visited the river EVERY time we visited your grandmother, Penny in Paducah. The two of them were drawn to the river as to a dear old friend; muddy water and all.
Your story opens the experience of what it is to have dementia and not be understood by all around them….how beautiful!