My dad’s 80th birthday was earlier this month, on November 3rd. My youngest sister, who lives near my dad and stepmother in Ohio, was able to spend some time with them. The rest of us had been planning for well over a year to drive in from Maine, New York and South Carolina. Unfortunately, we realized months ago that this was no longer going to be an option. We shifted our plans, collaborated and did our best to make the day special for my dad from across the miles. It felt like a pale imitation of a celebration.

I know that having to recalibrate a birthday celebration isn’t a huge hardship in the scheme of all-things-Covid, but still, it made me sad. Lingering sad. I had so looked forward to seeing my sisters and celebrating with my dad.

On the Occasion of My Father’s 80th Birthday

We couldn’t be there
to celebrate eight decades
to gather in candlelight
to circle in and sing.

To celebrate eight decades,
we’d planned to reunite but
to circle in and sing
became unwise, if not forbidden.

We’d planned to reunite but,
grieving, we cancelled journeys that
became unwise, if not forbidden.
We created a long distance celebration.

Grieving, we cancelled journeys that
promised hugs, love and laughter,
We created a long distance celebration.
Love rimed with loss.

Promised hugs, love and laughter
deferred by disease.
Love rimed with loss.
We couldn’t be there.

©Molly Hogan

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol at Carol’s Corner.

21 thoughts on “Pantoum

  1. Mitchell Linda says:

    Sigh. Such a sad gift, this poem. I hope you give this poem to your Dad. I hope you can see him soon. The repetition works well here to underline the disappointment by making it beautiful in its way. Next year, next year will be better. I so hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully written, Molly. I hope we can celebrate him, in person, next summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. margaretsmn says:

    This poem resonates with me as my father’s birthday was Nov. 11 and my brother’s on the 22nd. We were able to do Facetime and that has to be enough for now. It is sad, but I’m holding onto gratitude that my parents are healthy and safe. Your poem expresses both the gratitude and the sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. carwilc says:

    Your words totally capture the emptiness, and sadness, and loneliness of this very hard time. I hope the vaccine will come and you will get to celebrate your dad very soon1 My mom is 86. I think I have only spent two Thanksgivings apart from her, yesterday was one. A hard, hard day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your cancelled plans to visit your dad in the Buckeye State are a reminder to me to plan a West Coast national parks trip this fall, if it’s safe. It may not happen, but I’ll be ready if it is safe. It reminded me not to wait for round numbers (like an 80th) to celebrate but celebrate next year, and the year after that. Don’t wait, Dan. Who is to say that this isn’t a 100 year pandemic, but something that could come up again and again. Least we have a fighting chance with an administration who believes in science and scientists. Thank you the 80M who voted for sanity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      You make a good point. So often we wait for “special occasions” and often they fail to live up to the hype. Celebrate whenever possible! That has a great ring to it.


  6. cvarsalona says:

    Molly that lingering line, “We couldn’t be there,” hangs in the balance of emotions. It is difficult to celebrate at a distance but unfortunately COVID has changed the way many live their lives in a mixed up new normal way. I think about a time when we will be able to hug family members and celebrate as a family unit, not from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. maryleehahn says:

    I’m feeling the sadness of celebration deferred and/or postponed as I look for alternative ways to celebrate my upcoming landmark birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think my poem today owes a debt to yours, Molly. That line “love rimed with loss” is simple and yet so powerfully evocative. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. janicescully says:

    Such a lovely form for your poem, with the repetition that seemed to add to the feeling of loss for a celebration postponed. Just think how nice it will be when we can gather with those we love.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a lovely and sad pantoum, Molly. I especially like “Love rimed with loss.” Sending hugs :>(

    Liked by 1 person

  11. macrush53 says:

    I hope your dad will get to see this beautiful poem in his honor. Such poignancy.


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