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Vain + Alone: The heart broken a thousand times, reassembled a thousand and one.

Vain & Alone, December 25, 2015. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

Vain & Alone, December 25, 2015. Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


With my father hovering somewhere between worlds, I am firmly Vain but somewhere between Alone and not.

These were days infused with a kind of poetry that crushed us,
days burdened by an unbearable beauty…
that broke the heart a thousand times and reassembled it a thousand and one.
These were days when I was not much of a father to my children,
not much of a lover to my wife, not much of a friend to the few friends I have.
Only a son in service to his father.
In return, he told me with scathing honesty what he saw in me,
and located that nurturing part of me I’d thought long dead.

I’ve held on to this photo for a bit, unsure of it, not trusting its’ origins.
But in the life I have created for myself,
these kind of moments are all I have to weave into the work I do.
So, I wonder aloud here at what this man gave with his dying
to his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and his friends:
shattering the inane noise of the world for us with his ragged breath,
lubricating this arid desert of a place
with tears that leaked from his eyes in his final moments,
and finally binding us together with his absence…

This is the gift he gave us:  how it could be when it is our time to die.

The poetry, the heartache, the laughter, the songs,
the courage, the fear, the healing,
the forgiveness, the goodbye, the wrenching loveliness of it all—
this is what we can give to our own sons and daughters, lovers and friends.

I was alone in the house when I self-consciously set up the phone to capture singing a song to him, a song we had crafted together.  It was a song that came to be when he declared his pride in what I did for a living even though, as a father, it worried him to no end.  He was firm in the pride he felt but asked if I couldn’t at least write something “light”— not my strong suit, to be sure.  So, we spoke of his great love for my mother, and his growing love for the simple beauty he would see outside the window — the trees, the sky, the sun, the birds — that left him speechless and dumbfounded as to why the whole world seemed not to notice.  A song was woven together over time.

On this night, I sang it to him as I had done dozens of times in the previous weeks (along with his favourite cowboy tunes and a few from the hit parade he used to sing to us as kids) but in a self-conscious way, too aware of the camera, wondering what kind of man would film himself like this? as I sang looking down on his unmoving body.

When I stumbled into the bridge,
and the line “Love comes for you”,
he surfaced and opened his eyes to me,
raising his arm slowly to rest his hand on my forearm.
I continued picking through the solo
and at the first line of the last chorus, “Mary, Mary, in the yard”
he chuckled, then slipped back to where he’d come from, gliding out on
“Through the trees the sunlight slips/
To steal a kiss from Mary’s lips.”

This photo, taken after I put the guitar down,
is less a record of my singing to him
and more that of a son who owed his father everything,
learning here how to say goodbye,
and deeper in debt
when all was said and done.

Would that it could be this way for everyone who reads this.

gh

 

11 responses

  1. Sandy (Eardley) Scholes

    Beautiful….So beautiful. Thank you Gregory Hoskins for living this and writing this and sharing this.

    Like

    February 23, 2016 at 10:16 pm

  2. Monika

    The trust in sharing this moment with us, the trust when you sing, the trust in life, the trust in death, the trust in you – it all comes from the same place and it is being handed down through your dad and from there onwards. Thank you for sharing this moment. Blessings to both of you.
    Yours Monika

    Like

    February 23, 2016 at 10:27 pm

  3. Patty

    Beautiful.

    Like

    February 24, 2016 at 6:10 am

  4. Monique

    So lovely. Your words capture what so many of us face at those moments, but can’t write.

    Like

    February 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

  5. Caleigh

    *HUG* ❤

    Like

    February 24, 2016 at 10:07 am

  6. Here’s to so many wonderful memories of the times our families spent together. Our parents gave us amazing childhoods! Peace

    Like

    February 24, 2016 at 10:12 am

  7. Reblogged this on Our Enchanting Adventure and commented:
    Reminds me of how I felt when my father died.

    Like

    February 24, 2016 at 5:31 pm

  8. may he keep shining brightly
    in your compassionate heart’s
    actions & words.

    Like

    February 25, 2016 at 1:25 am

  9. Very heart-warming and timely for me. Thank you, Jenna

    Like

    February 25, 2016 at 6:51 pm

  10. Neda

    Heart and soul touching!
    And so deeply humanly open!
    Yo the wreckage and beauty of life!
    Thank you for openly sharing most intimate!
    May your father know deep I’ve and peace and
    may your heart never forget the notes of the
    soul song!
    As you keep coming back to the conversation
    with the great mystery!
    Out loved ones leave the gates of great mystery
    wide open!
    For us to wonder in awe and bewilderment
    of majesty!
    This transitory beautiful life!
    So looking forward to see you and welcome
    you to the UK!
    With love to you and your family
    Neda x

    Like

    February 26, 2016 at 1:58 am

  11. I had the pleasure of meeting you at a venue in Trenton Old Theatre Church last night .. as I listened to you perform I enjoyed smooth as glass vocals … and delivery. Your song ” Vain and Alone ” has resonated with me as I was with my Mom when she passed a year ago…guess I was chosen out of the eight children..I am a singer/writer … and she was my best support but very stern at times…I loved how you are vulnerable in your writing of the song, and your heart laid out for people to relate to…you are a great artist…Phyllis

    Like

    October 21, 2016 at 9:55 am

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