Jim Gustafson, MDiv
Fort Myers, Florida, United States
Poet’s statement: “Hospice House” reflects on a time recently spent in the lobby of our local hospice facility, as I visited with a good friend named Wilma.
“Psychosocial” reflects on the most recent events of Wilma’s life as she, who very much hates to fly, flew to visit her daughter. Upon returning, her condition rapidly declined. She was admitted to hospice care. I think it should remind everyone what most hospice workers know: there is much more to our decline than is captured in the body.
Wilma, on morphine, feels little pain
She is miles away from herself
Even further from her children
Who have grown into their own scars.
Their mother is an inconvenient journey
A historic marker commemorating indecisive battles
The kind that make wars winless.
Wilma, nearing ninety recalls,
Just a week, or was it two, ago?
When the week was over,
This trip was, she knew, important to do
When she got home, Wilma found
In the lobby
Where people come
To die well
They wheel in,
The same way
They wheel out
Though, coming in
Rolling down the long hall
There is a whisper
“I’m glad that’s over.
The body pusher pushes
JIM GUSTAFSON, MDiv was born in Chicago and now lives in Fort Myers, Florida. He graduated from Florida Southern College with honors in philosophy and received his master’s of divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. Ordained in the United Methodist Church, he has served as a local church pastor, conference leader, pastoral counselor, and hospice director/educator. For 30 years, he worked as a broadcasting executive and a management and sales consultant. He is married, has two children and three granddaughters, and now reads, writes, and pulls weeds.