the young woman who cared for him is trying
to move out.
In her old bedroom, a large stuffed bear
still sits on her bed,
a painting of her sister in Tbilisi with liquid eyes
still hangs on the wall.
For seven years, my father was more constant
than any man she’d known--
more than her father and grandfather, who died young,
and the husband who left her with a child.
My father loved how brave she was, how can-do--
coming to this country by herself,
excelling at jobs too sad and dirty for citizens.
With Dad, she always had a house and kind man
to talk to.
With her—though he couldn’t walk or change
his soiled diapers--
he still had much to give.
Jacqueline Coleman-Fried is a poet and essayist living in Tuckahoe, NY. She salutes home health care aides, who make it possible for the elderly and disabled to live in their own homes. Many immigrants take these demanding jobs when no one else will, and are not appreciated, but Ms. Coleman-Fried's late father and his aide came to love each other deeply. This poem is about their poignant relationship.