A martini toast to say goodbye

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

I’m going to tell y’all something now about myself that I’m a little ashamed to admit: I’m not a huge fan of poetry.  There.  I said it.  That might not seem like a big deal to you, but when you do a lot of writing for your job, you’re kind of obligated to appreciate the finer nuances of verse.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t count out all poets (Shel Silverstein comes to mind, if that tells you anything about my tolerance).  But I don’t have volumes of poetry by my nightstand either.

Every once in a while, though, I read something that touches me.  And yesterday I was sent a poem that one of our volunteers wrote.  Do you remember Bill and Rowdy, our awesome human/dog pet therapy team?  Well, Bill Hamelau had a dear friend, Velma, who died recently (under hospice care) and he was fortunate to visit her a few days before she passed away.  He was able to spend a precious few hours catching up, reliving memories, and making new memories that would have to suffice in the future.  At Velma’s request, they shared a martini toast to say goodbye.  And as such, a poem was born.

Reading it brought tears to my eyes.  And the second time I read it too.  Even in my limited connoisseurship (it’s a real word, I looked it up), I knew this was no “I cannot go to school today” poem about little Peggy Anne McKay (please tell me you get the reference here).  This was profound and graceful.  Sweet.  And so sad.  Ultimately, it’s a wonderful testimonial to a beautiful friendship that I felt compelled to share.  Thank you, Bill.  

Velma’s Death   

 A void

A vacuum


Darkness, hollow, cold.

Your death,

no surprise, but still.

Our bittersweet goodbye,

two precious hours,

tears, laughter.

Memories sweet, recalled

A Martini toast

to twenty-five years.

Surrogate Mother?

favorite Aunt ?

Dear friend.

One of a kind

Never again

“So special,”

you whispered,

“so special”

By Bill Hamelau, July 19, 2012

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, hospice, pet therapy

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3 Comments on “A martini toast to say goodbye”

  1. Marilyn Petersmark Says:

    Beautifully said! Poetry can be so meaningful, even Shel Silverstein!!

  2. Leigh Ann Matkovich Says:

    We would all be blessed to have experienced such friendship. The feelings in this poem are felt by someone who has truly experienced a wonderful relationship and seen it through to the end. Beautiful.

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