For the first two years of wedded bliss, my dad was a "sheet metal man" by trade and a member of the National Guard on weekends. Always the class clown, he met some kindred souls and made lifelong friends. From his poor beginnings, he later went into business for himself as a heating and cooling contractor.
He whipped me for the last time when I was 16. He wasn't always a great dad. But he grew more loving as the years went by. When I was 28, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. In six months, he was gone. He left me with a mean game of dominoes, a killer instinct in gin rummy, and a knack for telling stories.
Here's one of the last poems I wrote for him:
Black hair streaked with silver
slithered down the drain.
As far as he could see
down the long white length of him
down the slick white walls,
his black hair swept.
Did he clutch at straws.
Did he lift rough hands in disbelief
before he laid his face in them.
Not moving, making no sound,
who was he then:
the bald man bowing
head to the water
to the unknown
This is a Sepia Saturday post. For more personal glimpses of history, visit the Sepia Saturday blog here.