Friday, September 30, 2005

A Poem for my Father

I actually posted this last week - for about five minutes - but then deleted it because I wasn't sure I wanted to put it in my blog. It's a poem, and poems are personal. I mentioned to my children a couple months ago that after moving last year I had only recently located my notebook of poetry. I had written poems for each of them many years ago and when I found my notebook, I emailed their poems to them. Both of them had the same reaction: "I didn't know you wrote poetry!" The operative word is "wrote". Past tense. All of my poems are at least 10 years old. My sister, Joan, posted a poem in her blog, and that made me feel that if she could post hers, then I could post mine. She gave me the courage. Her poem is about our father. The one I'm sharing here is about him, too. After going through every poem in my poetry notebook (which isn't a tremendous undertaking since there are only eleven of them), I didn't see a single one that I'm completely comfortable in sharing. But the others are all either too depressing, too personal, or just plain too strange to post. However, I'll share the one about my father, Charles. It's a stream of consciousness, freeform poem. I wrote it almost thirteen years ago.

To Daddy
Are you up there, Daddy?
Sitting up in heaven
Watching us here on earth?
Laughing at us, wondering about us,
Or crying?
Life is such a crazy hodgepodge
Happiness - sadness - exhilaration - depression
All put together
Are you there? Seeing . . . and caring?

I miss you
I miss telling you about my victories and defeats
You always were interested
And wanted to know more.

Where are you?
I don't understand death
I remember dreaming about you several years ago
In my dream, we were at the Flea Market
I heard your voice, your laugh
I saw your face - you were alive
I want that dream again

Mother told me that when she was nine years old
And her father died
She prayed that she would dream of him
Because she knew then, and only then, she could see him.
I'm so much older than nine now
Yet I still want to dream of you
I want to experience again the peace of your unconditional love.

I remember one day I visited you - I was a parent myself then
I had the flu, and you tucked a blanket around me
Set me in front of the fire and cared for me
One brief evening so many years ago
And yet I remember - with longing.

Maybe you were the only person who was completely on my side
No judgments. No expectations. Just acceptace - and love.

When I was a little girl
You were the one I wanted to comfort me when I was hurt or sad
I was special. I was Cabbie.

You were the one who told us stories
Of growing up with four brothers
Your adventures skinny-dipping in the Yellow River
Your near-miss in the lightning storm with Uncle James.

We children would crowd around you
In your little office behind the house
"Tell us more," we'd plead,
And you'd oblige.

One Friday in 1986, you were visiting us
And we were at the Grand ol' Opry laughing together
The next Friday we were gathered around your grave.
Life changes forever too quickly
No time for a final "I love you"
Or a smile, or a good-bye.

I want to drive up in your driveway again
And see you waiting for me
"There's my Cabbie," you'd say
And I would be a little girl once more
Safe, protected . . . in the arms of fatherly love.

(written in February 1993)


Joan said...

Thank you for sharing, Carol. I am posting this comment in tears remembering the security of childhood,regretting love left unexpressed, thanking God for the blessing of good parents.

Carol said...

Thanks, Joanie. I get tears in my eye every time I read it, too. Guess we never stop being Daddy's little girls.

Carol said...

Actually the tears are in both eyes - plural - not just one.... LOL!

Terry said...

Thanks, Carol, for being brave and sharing. I'm glad you mentioned unconditional love. There were times in my life that I was absolutely driven crazy by my Daddy, (& I'm sure I reciprocated! :-)) but I never, never, never, doubted that he would give his life for mine (or any of my siblings) without hesitating.

Jane said...

Carol, what a beautiful tribute to your wonderful daddy. You are right, you never stop being daddy's little girl. I was a daddy's girl too and I miss my daddy to this day. I loved your daddy too and am so thankful that, I too, felt his love of family. I always looked forward to a bear hug from him. We both were very fortunate to have had such wonderful fathers!

Janice said...

Thank you Carol for this poem. I can't write about daddy except factual stuff and it is so meaningful when you and Joan do -- it's amazing to realize the power and impact of one life. We are so incredibly blessed that both mother and daddy were such incredible, loving, generous and unique persons. Each of them continues to have such dramatic and deeply felt impact; few people can match that. My overwhelming reaction after reading your poem was to pray that my own unique gifts would somehow be used in a similar way to enrich the lives of those who need my unconditional love, too, and not be used up by selfish and petty concerns.