I Learned This

I didn’t write anything at all on Father’s Day,
But rested instead, in a quirky, working way,
I did everything just like my dad showed me,
Before he started to lose the man who he used to be.
I pray that the harder struggle doesn’t happen to me,
But I see clear signs all around me already.
He used to be so strong, and worked so very hard,
At his job, at church, for friends, or strangers, or in the yard,
I can see that more than he loves himself, he still loves us,
His kids, his wife, and surviving friends, He’s my image of Jesus,
When he was younger and stronger he set the tone
Expecting respect, demonstrating grace and love, until we had grown
And always showing love for my mum that still gleams in his eyes
Despite the frustrations that can still make them both cry
I learned this.

So I worked in the yard and the house on Father’s day
Resting hands in the dish soap, in the garden, at play
And I flirted with her;  ’til it hurt when she pushed back,
But I loved past the point when I felt her attack
And I don’t understand how, but I love the same way
Sometimes it works out, it’s what dad would say
The kids disrespect and the wife says things harshly
And occasionally she sees me hurt, says she loves me,
Then offers something different than she knows I really wanted
Because love sometimes translates, and sometimes it doesn’t
If I only know how to speak love with the tongues of mere humans
Ending with surrender, I miss the mark by even farther then
I have to do more than say it to make it really count
Say I’m crazy, but love’s worth blood and pain, any amount
I learned this.

Instead of intent and accomplishment, I gave up and spent
Time to show love, and then our time came and went
To say it, to be it, an example to my kids, and proof to her
That I meant the words of my vow, just like my father
Mum’s frustrated; He says he can’t do it, I feel his discouragement,
As strength that once filled him is replaced by bones, bent,
He gets tired easily instead, now in slow, aging decline,
And his legs hurt sometimes, I’m sure much worse than mine.
She and I did mundane things, held hands, being together
I missed my chance to mow the grass, caught by stormy weather
I can’t get frustrated.  It’ll have to wait until another day
Another time, because love’s worth the time, and any price I’ll pay
I learned this.

A kind word, and laughter, are stronger than strength
I want a legacy of love that outlives my life’s length
But I begin to realize the things I can’t do still
That I used to just do; now I still try; I always will
Offering guidance with a gentle hand, a story, a joke meant
To distract but discipline, train by encouragements spoken
There are and will be days when I want my way, for me
But more often that’s not how I hope to be in their memory
They see me, discouraged, and I get up again, disappointed by
Life, and I get up again, I smile, fall and get up, trying to try
And fail, and try until I win, or die, I want to leave this
They see me discouraged, and angry, I cry, shoot and miss
The mark, but I keep on trying, fighting my pain with rage
Because I’ve seen deep meaning behind trying as I age
I learned this.

My dad is old and sometimes, too tired to try again,
I’ve seen him want to surrender, depressed, and then
To spite the lie, the warrior’s glint in his eyes flashes
Rage to raise to his feet again, teeth grind and gnash as
He tries anyway.  Despite all the negative-he may fail
When he feels disappointed, left alone after betrayal
“A righteous man falls seven times,” and gets up again
I may never be righteous; failure feels like all I’ve ever been
But I want to get up, love, and fight, when I remember his life
She doesn’t speak his language well, but she’s still his wife.
Not all of this is shown perfectly, by either my father or me,
But it’s worth the effort, if generations grow, learning to see
That noble struggles with life, with their personal humanity
Are the ongoing examples they ought to choose to leave.
I learned this.

Thanks, Dad.
~Deon

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2 thoughts on “I Learned This

  1. I had to say something, and this one is just like the other recent poetry, a “Song for My Tribe,” as my dad is cyclothymic with some autism spectrum difficulty, just “high functioning,” like me, whatever that means. I know it means he wrestles with depression regularly, and maybe more frequently now as he is getting older. I also know he struggles with ADD, as I first recognized his symptoms but then soon realized I was the same. He and mum gave me coping strategies, but we still struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

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