John Ferree
Shortly after the CommonVisions group started meeting, my 94 year old father - who had never been sick a day in his life - had a heart attack and his body began to shut down. "He has, maybe, a few weeks", the doctors said. So, with Hospice to lean on, my sister and I took him home. What I discovered is that dying isn't always an event but, instead, is usually a process that involves many people who arrive with food, words of support and concern, stories, music, remembrances, laughter, tears, smiles. White, black, Hispanic, young, old, rich, poor, college professors and good ole boys, relatives, friends, acquaintances, they entered the house and placed their unique gifts by his bedside for all of us to share. During that time, the events leading up to and away from my father's death were the focus of my life and, therefore, became the main focus of my Common Visions experience, as well. It was a more narrow focus than I expected but infinitely rewarding. My poem is a celebration of that incredibly intense experience.

Four weeks before my father died, I was afraid
As I sat by the bed where he lay
And wondered how we would handle it,
This going away forever.

Three weeks before my father died, I was relieved
As he and the family received
The magnificent gift of his final days
To renew and rejoin and, then, gently sever.

Two weeks before my father died, I tied ribbons on the ceiling fan
And played guitar and held his hand.
We sang and laughed and looked forward to
Each new day of grace. So very sweet.

One week before my father died, I was a son
Who had only guessed, when this begun,
How intensely spiritual it was to be
There, in that place where two worlds meet.

The moment when my father died I was astounded
At the power of the event, but grounded
In the belief of transition, passing,
And other realities where we may dwell.

We are young and, then, we're old
But we're still the same, truth be told.
He died the way he had learned to live,
Enjoying all he could. He did it well.
John Ferree

"This morning, as I rode to work, the familiar old road that I ride twice a day found itself in perfect alignment with the rising sun. My shadow, the one friend who is always around when I ride was directly in front of me. He grew shorter as I climbed the ancient hills and longer as I dropped down toward the creek - but remained directly before me - a crisp, clean outline of the windscreen, the fairling, and my own helmeted head."

"Other days and other roads, he circles me like the dark tail of a comet, always bending away from the sun. He scoots along the pavement, bounces on bumps, falls behind then races ahead attached only where the tires meet pavement. He has followed me far, that wispy ghost of myself - across vast prairies, soaring mountains, deserts, canyons, swamps, and cities. I am always happy to see him and he, me. I can tell because I often wave to him and he always waves back."
John Ferree

"In high school in 1958, I had to decide which "foreign language" was going to be most useful so, of course,
I took French."
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