A Circle Of Life by
(28 Stories)

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Almost like he was waiting for her

He was a fireman

Had the greenest Irish eyes 

that lit up every face in front of him

A smile too

to let you know he knew

just how important you were

as he opened the door 

to welcome you in 

never to let you go


A Newarker his entire life

He fought the riot fires without prejudice

more concerned with people

trapped in their homes  

than adding malice to hate


He was a Navy man 

blown by the cruelty of war 

An ally to his daughter’s quest

of ending Viet Nam

A lifelong Democrat 

we shared our politics 

in the TV room each night


The last five years of his life

I lived with him

My puppies snuggled up to him each day

I was there when my mom died 

helping in any way I could

to ease their fifty-five year break


When he came home with hospice

I was able to be his aide, 

Wanting so much 

to die in his own home

was something he always wished for,

I was grateful to be there


On the night of June 29, 2009

as my father lay in an all day slumber

the doorbell rang

My son and his wife arrived

carrying their two week baby Layla 

in their arms.

Miraculously my father awoke

his green eyes still dancing 

his smile so vividly real


We placed Layla, his first great granddaughter 

in his arms

As he stroked her soft face

he said “the circle of life is complete”


The next day, on June 30th, my father died



Profile photo of Patricia Valese pattyv

Characterizations: been there, moving, right on!, well written


  1. Oh Patty, what a lovely and moving tribute to your father. Thank goodness for the timing of your son’s visit with your granddaughter.

    I was born in Charleston where my dad was stationed during the war, and a few months later my paternal grandfather became seriously ill in New York. My father drove up to see his father but arrived too late. He carried that pain of regret with him all his life.

    • pattyv says:

      Had the picture all these years and first the date arrived and then the prompt. I just knew I had to try to tell it the best I could, not only for my family but for Layla. I know how blessed I was to be with both my parents before they passed, so I really understand how your dad must have felt.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Such a lovely tribute to your father, and such a beautiful ending with a complete circle of life. How fortunate for all of you to have had that in your life.

    • pattyv says:

      Yes Khati very fortunate. Thank you for your response. Telling my story and trying to keep it in some whacky kind of poetry form is awkward for me, so your compliment goes a long way.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    This was a moving tribute to a man who meant so much to you and others, with those vivid green eyes. You were there for him at the important moments of his life, but how moving that, even in extremis, he could share that last moment with his first great granddaughter; truly the circle of life completed at that singular moment in each other’s lives.

    • pattyv says:

      Thanks Betsy. He was a popular man. I think all who knew him remember the eyes. Layla just turned 14 so probably isn’t aware of the riots right now, but she wrote to me last night to say she loved the poem and how much it meant to her. That was my aim. Still miss that man with all my heart, so happy for him he missed the era of Trump.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    What a beautiful story, Patti. I have tears in my eyes. A perfect example of the circle of life, seeing his great-granddaughter allowed your father to let go.

    • pattyv says:

      You know Laurie, I never thought of it like that, but yes definitely. He had to see her first and then he was able to relax and leave. Just didn’t realize it until you said it.

  5. Your poetic paean brought me an enhanced appreciation for the first time we open our eyes. I have thought of this while watching my puppies. The eyes reveal how we recognize our world. Your circle of life presented through the feeling of the eyes moved my eyes to tears. Your poetic ability is fantastic. I look forward to more.

    • pattyv says:

      Wow Rich, you bought such a new revelation to the poem, your reply made me visualize the picture. How Layla was so intently looking at my Dad made me believe she could see him, perhaps? So thankful for this perspective.

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    For some reason, your poems often elude my efforts to comment upon them except to say how beautiful they are.

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