Born somewhere in the middle of the pack
he learned early to fend for himself.
Cleaned chicken coops and gathered eggs,
Saved his pennies for his first date
With the girl whom he would soon marry–
He took her to the fair, he did; even won her a teddy bear
(an American original); spent his
weekly salary on the outing. Proposed,
and then three children later, he
began to show them that integrity means
working hard, spending within
one’s means, repairing broken things,being true to one’s word.
He models still that helping others more often
then helping self brings joy; putting family first,
smiling even in the face of hardship,
working for decades in an often thankless job,
and then finding some fulfillment in teaching
during his retirement years–continue to frame
watching vigil over his then ill seventy something
wife and before that an ailing brother
taught his children what real love looks like.
Always giving more than is asked.
Providing a home for a struggling child,
fixing the old cars of every needy friend,
finding more joy in a fishing pole, a pack
of frozen anchovies, and a Pepsi than the richest man on earth finds
in his fleet of automobiles or his caviar and champagne
satisfies any true definition of success.
He, still smiling, texts his granddaughters about
silly things like when will they be weeding his garden or washing his car
because he knows a little “real work” is good for the soul,
and he smiles when he hears about his grandson’s motocross victories,
but even broader when his son calls for advice about a
blown head gasket (yes, talks about car parts could persist for hours)
because helping his adult children navigate hard personal
struggles, always with a kind word, a calm assurance
that when they do what is right, it will all work out
in the end, seems to bring him happiness, too
At least they like to believe that.
And now when someone happens by,
a visitor perhaps to my home,
they see his picture and ask,
“Who is that?”
And I say, “There is a Man.”
A great one.