So now I have a title for this poem.
It came to my attention
That I’d been a little twit
So to clear up the confusion
I thought I’d write a bit.
I couldn’t write a novel
there’d be too much history
So I thought that I might grovel
through a poem that’s plain…like me.
I always talk too loud, too much.
You’d think me quite a bug!
And when I need a loving touch,
Well, I much prefer a hug.
My father was not a huggable man. Before going to bed the nearest form of affection was my kissing the top of his bald head. The last time I performed this tender act was in September of 1976 after having colored his mustache and the little bit of remaining hair to match his toupee. This was on the eve of my my marriage to a man that would quickly become a distant memory. I do not remember ever having hugged my father.
He is buried at a Military Cemetery in Southern California. It will be busier this weekend than in March 2004 when I finally made it back for my son’s wedding two years ago. Plans to go see where my father was buried had been made while timing the other detailed events. We traveled from San Diego on a hot day…I wore a black pant suit. Not having been to the funeral, I thought he would appreciate this minute effort. I stopped at Michael’s Craft store the day before to pick up plastic flowers for his grave. Something tangible that would stay when I could not. A useless act. Rules. Always rules.
One of the toughest memories I have, as an adult, was our inability to see the other’s point of view. I had written a poem based on the destruction of our earth and his only remark, a wound that I still carry, was his “why couldn’t I write something more cheerful”. I never shared another poem with him. How much we missed during those years. My need to make him proud of me…his need to know that I would be there at the end. A conflict of dreams and ideals that were never rectified.
The only good memories I have are before he married the second time. Before I was a teenager in the real sense of the word. Before I committed serious acts that brought pain to the family. Before I was fourteen. I miss him. I miss fourteen. I miss thirty five years of hugs and conversation.
Don’t let another minute pass…
Funny, my father was the one that explained death to me through Little Boy Blue by Eugene Fields. In an effort to make him proud of me I memorized this when I was only ten years old. I share it, when reading at an open mike, to direct my breathing, focus attention and quiet the nervousness in my voice.
LITTLE BOY BLUE
the little toy dog was covered with dust
but sturdy and stanch he stands
the little toy soldier was red with rust
while his musket molds in his hands
Time was when that little toy dog was new
and that soldier was passing fair
and that was the time when our little boy blue
had kissed them and put them there
Now don’t you go til I come he said
and don’t you make any noise
so toddling off to his trundle bed
he dreamt of the pretty toys
and while he was dreaming an angel song
awakened our little boy blue
Aye the years are many the years are long
but our little toy friends are true
faithful to the little boy blue they stand
each in their same old place
Awaiting the touch of a little hand
the smile of a little face
And they wonder as waiting these long years through
in the dust of that little chair
what has become of our little boy blue
since he kissed them and put them there.
My grandfather had recently passed away, we had all just moved into a new house. Changes that my Mother never completely recovered from.
I make it a point to hug her every day.
A comfort that so many people miss in their lives. But it takes time and practice to warm up to hugs…open arms.
Is it too late for you to get that hug? I hope not. I hadn’t spoken to my Father for years. A commonly known Stepmother syndrome had deleted all hope of real affection. My fears, needs and worries as a teenager had been crushed. I quickly became a high school drop out, drug addict and single parent. Due to my stubborn will full-ness…not my parents or my father’s new wife.
I was able to visit his grave two years ago. Still no grass…and the plastic flowers I brought could not be left. Only love and understanding for everything he ever attempted to help me understand.
As I put the last words on this old post, preparing to repost this, I think of all the people in this world that just don’t get it. I be one. There are moments of clarity between all the fits and starts as I learn to grow through the pain of the past.
Reflection occasionally does personal justice. So this week, while reading about 9/11, I’ll be working through some memories, traumas and tribulations. If I am fortunate I will find some humor between the lines.