Just a Thought, Just Because – Something From a Son

Perhaps I am the same age now as my teachers were when I was a child.
I was young and precocious. And them, they were older and less hopeful, tired,
less than patient and more than anxious to get out of a life
that they never seemed to bargain for.

Perhaps I understand more about the intolerableness of a life or a life unfulfilled,
or unenthusing, uninspired, like a constant reminder that a choice was made out of haste
or that, at one point, a decision to reach a settlement instead of satisfaction took place
and years went by where we outgrew our surroundings
so our wings could never spread –
Perhaps, I have grown to recognize this
or understand this now that youth is now what it used to be.

Again, I reel back to the times when I was told,
You’ll understand when you get older
and realize that yes,
there is truth to this.

I used to see him,
The Old Man, coming home after a long day’s work.
I saw the intensity in his brow and a look of concern on his face.
I can see him now, equally the same, in my mind,
so intense, so critical,
as if something else was weighing upon him –
or as if the weight of the world
wore upon his shoulders
and changed the expression on his face.

I can see him at our family’s dinner table, eating alone,
knifing across a plate of reheated food and, of course,
let’s not forget
the big pieces of chicken were saved specifically for him.

I can see him, eating with the same levels of intensity – beads of sweat
building on his upper lip and the grease from the drumstick on his fingers.
A glass in front of his plate and in my head I see this with a certain lighting,
as if this were staged in my mind’s eye and all around my Father was dark.
All I can see is the table and the tablecloth. The surrounding area is blurred out from vision
and the dangling chandelier above the dining room table is somewhat dim,
somewhat yellowish and orange with a dramatic hue, as if to pick up the old feel
for the time that was, back when the 70’s were about to close and I was a young boy.

I remember this
sitting like a spy on the staircase, watching him, The Old Man,
and wondering what his day must look like
or why it was that he worked so hard.

I wished I could help him. I wished I could take away some of his concerns
and make him proud or at least,
appreciate me
I wished we didn’t need so much – or should I say
that I wished I didn’t need so much because this way, he could work less
and be home more.
Or maybe he could worry less
and be happy more. 

He never talked about money.
He never talked about how much he earned or how much money we had.
He never bragged or spoke about things, as if to be a big spender or foolishly rich.

He came from a different time and a different atmosphere.
He was older than most of the fathers with children my age.
He was 43 when I was born but, later in life,
I was told that he was too old to have children again.

I was the youngest, I was the one who missed the most.
I was the baby and yes, I was the one who never had the chance
to show him what I was going to be when I grew up.

I was eight when he was 50
This is the age I am now . . .

What do I remember?
I was sick at the time and hospitalized.
Mom couldn’t take much more but one night, after the hospital decided to release me,
I was upstairs in my bedroom, crying because I couldn’t get comfortable
or keep anything down.
I was petrified to throw up, yet, I was vomiting frequently. 

I can remember when he came home. I don’t know the hour
but I know that it was dark and past nightfall.
The Old Man came in.
Mom was at her wit’s end. She was frustrated because I had been crying all day.
The Old Man came up the steps into my little bedroom.
My room was like that of a boy. I had a small lamp on an end table
with a little nightlight beneath it, red and green like that from a ship’s lamp
like that on an outgoing vessel,
setting sail to cross the sea.

He was coming in from the cold yet
this was the warmest my Father had ever been to me.
I can remember crying but I didn’t want him to see.
I was whimpering but I didn’t want him to know.
I was sick but I wished that I could have been quiet
or better.

He noticed the shirt from my pajamas was pushed up enough
to show my ribs.
I was skinny as ever and The Old Man noticed this.
He started to play the bones on my ribs as if my ribs were a piano.

He sang:
Tea for two and two for tea,
Me for you. And you for me

And finally, just like that,
I was able to find comfort and fall asleep. 

This year will be the 34th year without him
On the last night . . .
The Old Man.
He was tired but couldn’t sleep.
He was restless and uncomfortable and eventually intubated.

I knelt down beside him . . .
I noticed his hospital gown was moved away from his ribs
and with all of my heart, I sang my Father to sleep
the same as he did for me when I couldn’t find comfort

Tea for two
And two for tea
Me for you
And you for me

I don’t know who or what I will be like when I am 62,
which is the age my Old Man was when he passed away.
I don’t know if I am someone he sees now or if he is proud or
if he wished I would do things differently – but I can say this,
now that I have grown older and now that the world has shown itself
in different ways, I can say that I understand his intensity.

I can understand what it means to have to work.
I know what it’s like to be in a world
and only have so much control; but more, I understand
what it’s like to work and still have so much to do.

Here I am, now, dealing with adult life.
But if I could, I would do anything
Just for a second
Just to see him smile
Just to hear is voice
Just to hear him call me “son” and tell me not to worry,
that he understands, that he’s been there too
and that I shouldn’t be afraid because no matter what,
he will always be my Father and I will always be his son. 

Tea for two
And two for tea
Me for you
And you for me

I miss you, Pop. 

Hopefully, I’ll make a run to Point Lookout soon.
I can stand on the rock piles
and look out from the Jones Inlet
to see you in the sea

Sleep well . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.