Tuesday, January 02, 2007


New Beginnings Start With An End.

A few weeks ago I related the story of my Dad’s passing to Elizabeth Ross, of the Ackley and Ross Funeral Home, 73 W Main St., Cambridge, NY, (518) 677-3234.

The depth of her understanding of the process of grieving, and the compassion and care, both she and her partner, Beaver, bring to their work, is exceptional and comforting. It has inspired me to share with you this important moment in my life.

John Denton Carlson 9-11-21 / 11-26-06

I am reminded today of my father’s passing. I continue to feel the total heartbreak and sting of the loss of someone who can never be replaced, my Daddy. With the new year stimulating resolution for positive movement forward; a focus on peace, prosperity and improved health for myself, my loved ones, and us all, I reflect on this most unusual of planets. One that supports living and then takes it away- sometimes quickly and violently, sometimes softly like a gentle wave, into eternal sleep.

My father was 85 years old when his medical history of heart disease, adult onset diabetes, vascular blockages, prostate cancer, a plethora of pharmaceutica and a touch of hospital human error, came together to create a couple of small heart attacks that lead to intubations, which lead to pneumonia which caused his ultimate demise after a week of struggle in a New York City hospital Intensive Care Unit.

For Dad, my family, and me, it was a roller coaster ride of a week-- from his condition “improving,” to it “slipping,” to removing his breathing tube, to having to put it back in. We went from, “the heart attacks are only a minor setback,” to his “kidneys are failing, we do not expect him to live through the day.” Two and a half days after this last prognosis, watching his condition deteriorate more and more, our family made the difficult and merciful decision to have his breathing tube removed and let him go.

I am deeply blessed to have had the experience of being there with Dad and my Mom the last four hours of his life. I don’t suppose I will ever again experience anything as terribly beautiful as witnessing my mother loving her husband of over fifty-six years to death; holding him so sweetly, talking to him in a voice reserved only for one’s mate, a voice defined and held sacred by so many years of ultimate intimacy.

Her strength and honesty helped us all ride those last moments together; “Sweetie, you are going to meet your maker now. We are here, holding you with all our love. You can let go, let go of your pain, anguish and fear. You are safe.” Thanks to a compassionate administering of morphine, he was beyond speaking and discomfort, but he did nod affirmatively when Mom asked if he wanted us to pray for him.

And so we prayed, sang songs and spoke softly to him while we held his broken body in our arms. His breath getting short like a gentle whisper, I watched the carotid artery in his neck still pumping with lifeblood. We recited together the “Hail Mary”… full of grace, a prayer I learned as a young boy and really never understood to this moment; it ends, “…now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” Just then I placed my hand on his heart and he died. With a great force, akin to sticking ones finger in an electric outlet, I felt his spirit leave his body and shoot up my arm. All the love, all the fatherly lessons he had ever bestowed upon me, flowed through me in that instant.

I never felt my own being alive so completely.

In memory of all those lost in 2006. May we heal from our sadness and grief and live out our own days with hearts full of compassion and forgiveness.

Have a great 2007, no matter what our human condition and fate shares with you.


Blogger Steve D. said...


What a beautiful testament to your love for both parents. When My Dad died in March I was awakened with a phone call at 2:30 am. I had said my goodbyes to him each and everytime I left him for the previous two weeks but the sting of having been so far away (a whole 10 miles) at his moment of passing still stays with me. God bless you and your family at this very difficult time and believe me when I tell you that I suffer with you my brother.

Much love,


7:26 AM  
Blogger June W. Mohan said...

June W. Mohan

Your eyes, your brow, your ears, your hand.
Just a few pieces.
The sum of a man.

Your heart, your humor, your ethics, your depth.
Bits hidden inside.
Remain after death.

Your life force goes on with a vigor renewed.
You’re more than yourself.
He’s living in you.

The positive greater than ever before.
The quiet is sweeter.
You know you are more.

Your time, your talents no longer errant.
Learned from another.
The best of your parent.

Goodbye Mr. Carlson. I am honored to call your son my friend. God bless you and give you eternal peace, and grant the same to your loved ones.

June M

9:57 PM  
Blogger Dharam Singh said...

John, my brother
I am speechless but will wrestle with myself to say something anyway.

First, reading of your Mother's love and intimate expression immediately confronted me with my own need for an intimacy based on a commitment. I am sure that this is the part that has me speechless (more in this later). Thanks some much for relating this.

Second, the day before the funeral while I was enroute from Hopkinton, NY, I found myself driving through the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. A place where you, Gerry and I did much winter mountaineering and bonding in the mid-seventies. I considered it extremely auspicious to be driving through this region for the FIRST TIME since those times together. It brought back to me the images and feel of those times that I shared with the son of John Denton Carlson. This drive gave me a chance to thank him for bringing you and this time into my life. So much was and is possible because of him, a sort of "butterfly effect".
The electric magneticism of his essence does flow through you...it always has. And I have to feel it made it easier for him let go, in the end, knowing that.

All Blessings. ALL Blessings and strength to you, to your Mom and to your Sister.

More power than we know,

1:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Dear John,
To be Mortal is to be a loser. We live our lives losing one thing after another and one person after another. Finally, we lose ourselves. But if we love ourselves and each other, we are able to live and die lovingly and graciously. This is real, and this is human. The usual masculine model of winner-warrior who makes killings and is death-defying is unable to live a loving life. Love IS the only meaning, and so many thanks to you and your Dad and your Mom for this wonder full reminder.
With love, Michael

10:04 AM  
Blogger Valerie said...

I lost my mom this past August, three days after my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Thanks for sharing. Valerie

10:43 PM  

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