There is so much I didn’t know about my father. I knew he loved music, could recite volumes of poetry, The Cremation of Sam McGee in its entirety from memory, and had mechanical and sales skills. He never shied away from work. His values he shared on an individual basis not in long verbose expositions of principal. He was small, quiet, and friendly, a spiritual man, with a strong faith and reverence for the Bible.
What I didn’t know about Dad and perhaps many of us don’t know about parents is the inner hopes, the dreams, fears, and disappointments they might have held.
Some years ago, while looking through a photo album, I began to think about my father differently. While observing specific pictures, I composed this poem.
Snapshots of Father
Standing beside his bride,
He’s a young man ready to take on the farm.
I can’t imagine my father aged twenty-two.
Years later, at thirty,
his arm around his wife,
He’s a father of four.
I’m standing there,
but memories of my father
looking that young were never mine.
Only months have passed
But now he stands, shoulders back,
A manly smile replaces boyish grin,
For he and family stand beside the house
That faith and courage, labour and skill
have fashioned into home.
My childhood memories stretch
To recreate that scene again.
A decade’s gone
Six boys surround him now—two tall as he.
His slender face reveals a wrinkled brow
betraying hopes unmet
and dreams not realized yet.
I stand there too, aware,
but unaware of how a man at forty-four
can sense a loss of grip on visions
not yet gained.
He sits content, his family standing by.
He’s smaller now, or so it seems,
since I’ve outgrown his height.
His youthful smile and slightly greying hair
deny his seventy years.
And in his steady eyes I sense
a peace that does not come from gaining
world or fame,
but from a faith in God that settles all within.
May I grow old as gracefully as him.