Monday, May 31, 2010

Long Poem for my Dad

For lack of a better title, I thought I would warn you that this post is long and poignant.  Dad was a Korean War veteran, so this seems like as good a day as any to post this.

He cried when I left,
Just like I cried
when my sister called to tell me the news
that Mom was gone.
No wonder I dislike her.
I postponed my job interview
tearfully promising to call back
destroying professional credibility
but building a guilty connection.
They would have to hire me now.

At the airport, every part of my face was leaking.
Undignified, I snuffled and sobbed,
taking a deep breath before each transaction.
I survived the apathy of strangers easily,
Yet kindness undid me.

Missionaries sitting behind me
asked if I was all right.
I nodded, then shook my head.
opened my mouth to speak
but only squeaks came out.
Unsure of the precise tragedy,
but knowing there was one,
they promised to pray for me.
They played with my toddler,
allowing me solitude for my sorrow.

Arriving at the airport, our family reunited,
missing the one who held us all together.
I stayed with Dad for 3 weeks,
Sending my husband home
After the funeral, so one of us
could stay employed.
My brothers and I
helped Dad with the mountains of paper
that life leaves behind.
We sorted clothing and donated.
I threw out unfinished needlepoint
which he rescued from the garbage.

The man who never wrote checks,
or dealt with the calendar,
transformed into the grandfather
who knew everything.
He channeled my mother,
picking up her habits,
even the ones
that used to annoy him.

Three weeks was a long time
for my son to be away from his father
but too short
for us to be with his Gunny.

Three weeks to adjust
to Mom's absence.
Three weeks of love and support
as he did the necessary things.
Three weeks to ease the pain,
I thought, of losing his life's companion.
Seems it was just three weeks
of delay, before the loss hit.

He cried when I left,
like I've never seen
this tough ex-marine cry. 
His face crumpled,
and his eyes leaked, and
he hugged me hard.
Somehow, I guess
I channeled Mom, too.
Looking over my glasses at him
like Mom used to do.
If we all had a piece of her inside us
then there was less of her
whenever we parted.

I cried too.


  1. My eyes are now leaking. It's beautiful.

  2. That is very moving. You ALL were so strong for him, the way he had been for you guys all those years. Today he is always remembered by all of us. Everyday grandma is remembered...I see them both in my father every day. Do me a favor, listen to the song "A Father's Love" by Bucky Covington. Its my dad. Its your dad.

  3. Thanks, John. I will look for that song now.

  4. Wow, what BEAUTIFUL writing! Thank you for this gift.


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