The Fog Comes

Calvin and Hobbes new fallen snow

Waking up early on Christmas Eve, 2015


By Carl Sandburg

The fog comes

on little cat feet.


It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.


This poem creeps into my mind intermittently when triggered by circumstance; once when looking down on the pollution hovering over a city; another when driving through a fog so thick I could only see twenty-five feet ahead, and none of the street or traffic signs were visible. I have often wished the fog to be a thing that moves on sooner rather than later.

My parents-in-law are moving in with us soon. We realized that my father-in-law’s progressing dementia, though not severe yet, has coupled with some hearing loss, and led him to live more and more in an isolated world of television and Louis L’amour novels. In consequence, my mother-in-law is losing the support he once gave her as she struggles with her own progressive health problems. Observing the situation, it seems best to have them both in a place where there could be more family social support and less worry about the day-to-day maintenance of a house.

My dad recently had major back surgery, fusing several vertebrae, in hopes of relieving some of his constant and excruciating pain. This is overlaid on a lung problem that is also progressive and makes it difficult to do activities without supplemental oxygen. Lately we’ve also noticed that he’s having trouble composing his sentences in conversation, and reading aloud has become difficult. This has concerned us, but the doctors have insisted that he doesn’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s, and that his challenges are just stress-related.

My youngest brother is handicapped from a bicycle accident that happened about 24 years ago. He is legally blind due to visual processing problems, and his physical limitations require him to use a walker or a wheelchair to get around. He lives in his own head a lot, as he tries to hold on to his daily routines and habits, not always realizing the emotional tenor of the circumstances around him. Mom  is a tiger-like force, pushing my brother to maintain his healthy interactions with the world, and she takes him to the local elementary school regularly so that he can work as a special tutor for children who are struggling with reading. Somehow, in spite of his visual processing problems, he is still able to have success and teach, and  motivate these kids to improve their reading and not give up, and the students love him. And yet I have noticed that he, too, is slowing down. It now takes him longer to work through his personal care routines and it seems like his visual processing may be suffering even more.

Mom called last night. She wanted to confirm the time for Christmas dinner, but she also had news. The results of Dad’s recent brain scan show “a significant increase of white matter” in the areas of the brain related to the condition which she has long suspected he is struggling with, and now the doctors say he needs to have another scan in three months. Frontotemporal dementia is apparently not a common enough disease that many doctors recognize the symptoms of it, which is why they have been brushing aside Mom’s insistence that there is a problem. Unfortunately there is no treatment for this disorder, except palliative care as the disease progresses. There are times when you really wish you were wrong.

The fog comes

on little cat feet.


It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches…




  1. Very well written. But sad. I love you and I will pray for you. Thank you for sharing your feelings about this. It helps me with my own. Shelley

    Sent from my iPad



  2. Well.
    I loved the underlying peace of this piece. And the bit of hope couched in the repeated last line.
    “It came to pass . . .”
    Love ya!


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