Something Wanted My Father, Humming To Be Written

Posted | Jonathan Gillman No Comments

I wrote poetry in college, and then stopped for years. A few years ago something made me go back to it. 3 months later, I started writing about my father, with dementia and Alzheimer’s. He had already declined a huge amount and was—we didn’t know this then—in his last six months.

A few months after that, some artists from our school were doing an exchange with other artists from South Africa. I wanted to go, and applied; I thought it was a no brainer—I do social issue theater with teens, it seemed completely relevant.

But they didn’t select me. They chose my wife—herself a poet—and a few others. I put her on the limo to JFK to fly to South Africa—and I flew to my parents’ house in Austin, Texas. I spent a week there. It was the longest I had been “home” since I graduated from college—and the last time I saw my father alive.

In that time, thoughts & writing about Alzheimer’s came pouring out of me, sometimes 6 or more a day—and, that’s when the incident happened of my father humming while I played—and, without that, there is no book.

Something wanted My Father, Humming to be written. I seemed to be its instrument.

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