Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On the 6th Anniversary of my Father's Death

My father always jokingly confessed that he never understood me or the decisions I made in my life. While he was a meat-and-potatoes, crude-oil-under-his-fingernails, devout Lutheran, Nixon-supporter kind of guy, I was a vegetarian, a poet, a High Church Episcopal priest, a committed pacifist, an unapologetic liberal. Although he never once said a word against my lifestyle, he was often perplexed by almost every aspect of my life. And still, despite it all, he showed me nothing but unconditional, unwavering love and support. Throughout my life, even despite our differences, I was consistently amazed at how he always seemed to have it all together. Nothing seemed to faze him or upset him. He walked through life with an inner strength and an outward calm and kindness that I both admired and envied. Everyone who knew him said the same thing about him: he was, quite simply, a good man.


I miss him almost every day and often find myself wishing I could ask his advice for some “thing” in my life. His death six years ago today transformed me in ways I still can’t quite fully process. But I sure am grateful he was my father. I just wish I had had a chance to tell him that.


Here is one of the poems about his death. It was included in my collection, That Word, published in 2014 by North Star Press.

COMMENDATION


Take from him
whatever stains
even Communion


and devotion
can’t undo.
And let him


rise up—
if not today
one day soon—


from the ashes
we placed
so carefully into


the dark recess
of the earth
and left there


where the rain’s soaking
and the snow’s run-off
and the heat of high noon


cannot reach him
anymore.
Let him rise up


from here
more beautiful
than he is


in those dreams
from which I myself
rise and stumble


toward a
slightly overcast
dawn.


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