As I cast about for topics for this week’s poem, I realized I had been thinking a lot about my dad. This is the 5th anniversary of his death and I thought it was time to do some remembering that I hadn’t wanted to do before.
When I was young you were
My expert on the world.
Why is the sky blue?
It’s God’s favorite color.
Where do baby birds come from?
Inside the tiny eggs.
Will it be okay?
Yes, of course.
I get my best qualities from you,
Your love of animals and classical music,
Your sense of humor, your positive outlook.
You inform my outlook on life.
I love your easy laugh when the cats are being silly
And that you wept when we lost a pet.
I hear your rich, tenor voice, beloved by many,
Your pride when you sang next to Richard Tucker,
The reverence when you sang The Lord’s Prayer.
Though you complained about being outnumbered,
You always bought valentines for all your girls
With your “allowance.”
Your purpose was to care for us
And keep us safe.
Imprinted on my mind are the tracks of the gurney
In the snow as they took your body away,
The red rose they left on your bed.
But I keep you in my heart.
As I wrote this poem, I tried to capture some of the things that illustrate what he was like. Actions always speak louder than words, so I tried to incorporate some things he did, instead of always just saying he was “this” or he was “that.” And I tried not to be melancholy, but I’m afraid that wasn’t quite possible.
While I realize not every person has good memories of their father, I hope I have touched some of your favorite memories. I think, like it or not, we will always find some of our parents qualities in ourselves. I actually never thought about the fact that I probably got all those things from my dad until now. It gave me some comfort to realized it.
While my relationship with my father was always pretty easy, my relationship with my mother is complicated. Eventually I may work up to a poem about that, but it will be quite a task, maybe an epic or something like that.