Our Fading Historian


                      My Aunt Lil, me, my Father, my Cousin Dan 1947

Our Fading Historian
for Cousin Dan

And lying in a clean bed,
looking out the windows,
the pine trees whispering about him
in his yard
lies my very last cousin on earth,
the oracle of my life
the only tie left to my family
and his light is dimming
and he lives in twilight.

My Mother, My Father, Me and Cousin Dan in New York 1951

He’s still here but not wanting to be,
trying to cross over;
his time not yet expired, so begrudgingly
he lives another day.
I call him once a week to hear his voice
and tell him that I love him.
When he says, “Be happy for me when I go”
I say,  “I love you and I will be happy
when you can get away.”

                        Cousin Dan and his young bride Iris

He’s 92 with a brilliant mind,
a chess master,
speaks 7 languages
but he is too weak to get up from his bed,
and so he tells me he wants to die,
but I am selfish, he’s the last soul alive
who remembers my mother, my father.
Tells jokes and anecdotes,
“Oh your mom was a great gal”
“The ladies loved your dad”

603690_10203563035692915_1432723956873814774_n 2
Cousin Dan Linguist and Chess Master

Months back he was still able to enjoy a chat;
we spoke in Spanish so he could practice
He saw me at 3 days old,
and spent weekends at our home,
when he studied at Madison.
He says that he loved me
from the first time he saw me.
He calls me precious and sweetheart
and tells me stories.
He is truly the fading historian
of a dying family.

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-05 at 7.05.12 PM

                                 Cousin Dan on his 90th birthday in New York

How hard it is to let him go.
I say “I love you mi primo querido”
He says, “I love you too sweetheart”
No one else calls me sweetheart.

He says he’s proud of me,
I have the genes for languages
from the family.
He loves my poetry
when I read it to him on the phone
He loves remembering me
as an awkward teen.
Handsome and strong all his life
about 7 years ago,
he started losing his eyesight.

I call him every week
I know he hopes he won’t
be able to answer me;
he’s waiting for his own call
to finally rest after 92 years…
but I wish he would be here forever,
and that’s very unfair of me.
Just that when he goes…
all his memories

will be lost to me…
and yet when I hang up the phone
I truly pray he gets his wish. 🙏

IMG_2702 2
                           Cousin Dan and Me in Costa Rica 2017

Karima Hoisan
April 9, 2023
Costa Rica
*after hanging up from talking to him.


This entry was posted in Poems, Real Life Stuff, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Our Fading Historian

  1. Steve says:

    A poignant reflection on your beloved cousin. Thank you for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 😪So heartfelt Karima ❤️Thank you for sharing 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  3. daleinnis says:

    Oh, that’s beautiful; such a tribute to an amazing person. And the last lines are perfect…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Soul touching my dearest Karima. Thank you for sharing ❤️🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  5. michnavs says:

    Its a very hearrfelt and loving tribute to your counsin Karima. Thank you for sharing his life to us…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Steve Rogers says:

    I recognise these sentiments, as one who recently lost both my parents, aged 93 and 92. I often meditate on their having died “of old age” and learning to accept that there was nothing more to see of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Beef:) so wonderfully surprising to see you here. Thank you for leaving me this thoughtful comment. I’m sure you know then about the tug -of -war that gets carried on inside..seeing we must let them go but….just not wanting to quite yet. I am sorry you have now lost them both but you were so lucky too to have had them as long as you did. Alhamdulillah! Thank you for commenting, and for still anonymously reading me…now and then. It means a lot to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. johncoyote says:

    Beautiful photos and thank you dear Karima for sharing your memories. We must remember the great people, who were kind to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Linda Bass says:

    I didn’t understand letting go of those we love until my baby brother died. “I am graduating. Be happy for me,” he said a few days before he left for good. Now I look at death as a promotion to something unknown and better. Still, there is that human urge to cling, to prolong those final moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree with you Linda and I know too he will be so much better off. Gino, in his last days told me two things..one, he was turning into a butterfly but not quite yet and two, he was going to live in a new society. When I asked him if I could go live there too he said “Sure…but not yet..a bit later you can come” 🙂 Thank you for your beautiful comment and sharing of your own experience in this area of letting them go.


  9. Layla Todd says:

    What a powerful poem that speaks to the necessity of letting go of those we love yet always remembering them and the relationships we had. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Layla..yes that difficult balancing act of letting them go and struggling to keep their memories safe inside. I could always count on him to remember small details, I had forgotten but he always knew them..Now..I will be the historian of the family when he goes. His mother was my father’s sister and their last name is dying out with me. They were a family of immigrants from Ukraine who came to the US at the turn of the century. Thank you for this comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. swadharma9 says:

    tender & beautiful. i love your sharing❤️😘🌹

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a beautiful and heart-touching poem, Karima! It’s hard to let go, even when we know they are suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Dawn! I was so moved when I spoke to him yesterday…I had to try to put my mixed feelings into words…and yes even when we know it’s for their best, how hard to let them slip away. Thank you dear friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful heartfelt pictures Karima! Love your words and the feeling behind them! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Americaoncoffee says:

    Such a heartfelt sure. You are a beautiful connect Karima. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Grace says:

    Wow Karima, this is absolutely beautiful. The history, the family connection, the tender love and the ripe poetry is just such a gift to read. Your words quite truly jumped off the screen and into the heart which is the work of a very amazing poet like yourself 😊. Thank you for sharing this story in such a beautiful and glorious light. The pictures added a whole other dimension too. Perfection on so many levels 🤍🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops! Sorry my sweet friend, your comment slipped in somehow unnoticed until this very minute 🙂 Thank you so much for your inspiring comment and really..I know how lucky I even am that some of these photos exist (76+ years later) I am pleased you enjoyed seeing them as part of my poem,which I am sure you can tell, was a real stream of consciousness that washed over me right after talking to him. I am not sure this is even “good” poetry, but this is exactly the way it came out…Sometimes we just have to write what our hearts feel and later wonder if we should ever post it or not. This was one of those times for me. Thank you dear Grace for your words of approval.🙏🌹❤️🙏


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