Saturday, January 05, 2008


Ed Moses, Richard Eli, Pat Moses, Sam Moses, and Barry Moses.

I posted this photograph a few months ago, but it deserves some mention today, of all days.

My father Ed Moses would have been 60 years old today; he was born on January 5, 1948 and only lived to the tender age of 46.

They say his mother almost delivered my father in a snow storm, but arrived at Sacred Heart Hospital with only moments to spare. She rushed with a panic from the family home in Hillyard, all the way across town to the hospital on lower South Hill. They rushed her into the delivery room, and she gave birth a scarce fifteen minutes after stumbling through the door.

Oddly enough, his death played out with eerie similarity. It was January 8, 1994, only three days after his 46th birthday, when he suffered a massive heart attack. He had attended a powwow at the Masonic Temple in downtown Spokane when he began to suffer unmistakable chest pains. He tried to tough out it, undoubtedly too long. By all accounts, he went back to change out of his dance regalia and fell suddenly to the dressing room floor.

When the ambulance arrived, they tore his wardance shirt from his chest and shocked his heart a total of five times en route to Sacred Heart Hospital. There was no use trying. He left this world just as quickly and abruptly as he arrived. They declared him dead in the same place he began his life 46 years earlier.

* * *

Every year since my father's death, January 5th marks the beginning of a shadowy, surreal procession through memory and time. Strange spasms of recollection filter back into my present mind and hold me hostage until the anniversary of the burial on January 12. In a bizarre way, every passing day reminds me of Holy Week, or my own personal Stations of the Cross. January 5: my father is born. January 8: he falls into death. January 12: we place his body into the icy, snow-covered ground.

But unlike the Catholic story of Christ's passion, there is no happy ending; no resurrection to triumph over death; no Day of Pentecost to heal my broken heart. No, only time will heal all wounds, or so they say.

Truthfully, the sting of his passing hardly affects me anymore, but these days... oh God, they always surprise me with their forceful bleakness.

Perhaps I am my father's resurrection. His spiritual legacy passed to me and my life changed in drastic, unforeseeable ways. Everything turned upside down, but not for all the "normal" reasons. The classic "stages of grief" can't touch what I felt, for my inheritance nearly killed me. I was only 23 and truly unprepared for what would happen, beginning on the inside and spilling out into the rest of my life. Only now, after 14 years, have I even begun to catch a glimpse of what it all means. His teachings awaken in me and nothing can ever be the same.

o sulustu, puti kw l'e l' qenple. anwi kwin l'ew. anwi kw i suxwme'meyem. nem chin put.


Crayons said...

Wow, this is such a moving post. Your dad died at the same age at which my big sister died. The memories of our whole family gathered in the hospital room bring me to my knees.

I came to think of her passing as a kind of Christ-like sacrifice, although my religion is not Christianity.

I too came to think of her resurection in personal terms. I decided that she was born again in me, in my siblings and parents, in the musicians and the children and the canoes on rivers and in the poor in homeless shelters.

May your memories of your father multiply as many blessings to you.

(Sorry to hog your comments space with such a long comment!)

T.R. said...

That's a beautiful, beautiful post Barry. Your gift of the word here transcends the ordinary requiem.

What doesn't kill us - makes us stronger -- so let your inheritance be that which makes you stronger and be open to those obligations passed on to you, no matter how untimely.


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