One Thing Dad Got Right

Father to Son

by Edgar Guest

The times have proved my judgment bad.
I’ve followed foolish hopes in vain,
and as you look upon you dad
you see him commonplace and plain.
No brilliant wisdom I enjoy;
the jests I tell have grown to bore you.
But just remember this, my boy:
‘twas I who chose your mother for you!

Against the blunders I have made
and all the things I’ve failed to do,
the weaknesses which I’ve displayed,
this fact remains forever true.
This to my credit still must stay
and don’t forget it, I implore you;
whatever else you think or say:
‘twas I who chose your mother for you!

Chuckle at times behind my back
about the ties and hats I wear.
Sound judgement I am known to lack;
smile at the ancient views I air.
Say, if you will, I’m often wrong
but with my faults strewn out before you,
remember this your whole life long:
‘twas I who chose your mother for you!

Your life from babyhood to now
has known the sweetness of her care;
her tender hand has soothed your brow;
her love gone with you everywhere.
Through every day and every night
you’ve had an angel to adore you.
So bear in mind I once was right:
‘twas I who chose your mother for you!

One last smile for Father’s Day from the
Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Unique Father’s Day Verse

Back when my birth father was still alive I searched, often in vain, for appropriate greeting cards to give him, a man I hadn’t spent that much time with in my life. So nothing like “How much you mean to me,” seeing as, in all honesty, our relationship was mainly an acknowledgement of a biological fact.

These special days are a challenge for those of us who’ve had almost no relationship with the man who contributed to our existence. No “You were always there for me” or “You were always a shining example” kind of sentiments. A shining example he wasn’t and I think he’d be the first to admit it.

And you want to be honest about it. A friend told me she’d bought her mom — with whom she’d always had a distant relationship — a really sentimental card one year for Mother’s Day. When her mom read the verse, she said, “Well, this is nice. It isn’t true though.”

So you buy a blank card, scribble “Happy Father’s Day,” and give it with a box of chocolates. Then one day I decided to write a verse for offspring who haven’t had the greatest relationship with their fathers. This is what I came up with:

Hi Dad,

It doesn’t come through very well
to the younger generations
why grownups do the things they do–
those unseen motivations.
And sometimes kids get so upset,
stubborn, rebellious, too.
At times we clench our fists and swear
we’ll never be like you!

But Time has ways of teaching us,
then we look back and see
things more from your perspective
how you hoped that life would be.
Some times are precious memories;
sometimes were really sad;
sometimes I didn’t understand–
but now I thank you, Dad.

—C.G.

What would you write?

FATHER

by Edgar A Guest

Used to wonder just why Father
Never had much time for play;
used to wonder why he’d rather
work each minute of the day.
Used to wonder why he never
loafed along the road an’ shirked;
can’t recall a time whenever
Father played while others worked.

Father didn’t dress in fashion,
sort of hated clothing new;
style with him was not a passion;
he had other things in view.
Boys are blind to much that’s going
on about them day by day,
and I had no way of knowing
what became of Father’s pay.

All I knew was when I needed
shoes I got ‘em on the spot;
everything for which I pleaded,
somehow Father always got.
Wondered, season after season,
why he never took a rest,
and that I might be the reason
then I never even guessed.

Father set a store on knowledge;
if he’d lived to have his way
he’d have sent me off to college
and the bills been glad to pay.
That, I know, was his ambition;
now and then he used to say
he’d have done his earthly mission
on my graduation day.

Saw his cheeks were getting paler,
didn’t understand just why;
saw his body growing frailer,
then at last I saw him die.
Rest had come! His tasks were ended,
calm was written on his brow;
Father’s life was big and splendid,
and I understand it now.

From his book, A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

Divorce Court Tears

The husband and wife were finally agreed on one thing: there was no point going on this way. Too much roiling water had flowed under the bridge. There’d been a number of bitter quarrels between them this last while. Neither of them were happy with the other anymore so the best thing was to get a divorce and try to find happiness with someone new.

Thus they found themselves in court one day, together with their lawyer, making application for divorce, and the question naturally came up as to who should be granted custody of their small son. The would-be ex-spouses were hurling accusations and retorts back and forth so much that his Honour was having a hard time reaching a decision.

Finally he turned to the forlorn-looking little boy and gently asked, “Which one of your parents do you wish to live with, little man?”

The courtroom fell silent, awaiting the boy’s answer. He looked from one parent to the other and burst into tears. “I want to live with both of them!” he wailed.

The husband and wife looked at each other, their eyes asking the question, “What are we doing to our son?” Were their own desires and quarrels really so much more important than his happiness? What would become of him, constantly torn between the two of them? The mother grabbed for some tissues and buried her face in them. The husband bowed his head and wiped away some tears with his thumb.

The husband turned and quietly consulted with his lawyer, then the two of them had a quiet discussion with his wife and her lawyer. After some nodding and a few trembling smiles, each parent took one of the boy’s hands. They approached the Bench and informed the judge they were going to reconcile their differences and be a family again.

The judge smiled down at the three of them and declared the matter dismissed. Still, he couldn’t help wishing their little boy might have been spared this wrenching sorrow.

This story I’ve retold in my own words appeared in an old Friendship Book of Francis Gay. I believe it was a true account, so I’ll call this creative non-fiction.

Tales Out of School

Mr. Hyde, the Principal, was sitting at his desk one day when his secretary knocked on the door.

“Charlie Johnson’s mother is here asking to see you, sir. Something about a comment the teacher made on her son’s report card.”

“All right, send her in.” He frowned, wondering what sort of complaint he’d have to listen to now. He stood as a thirty-something woman entered his office. “Mrs. Johnson, glad to see you.” He shook her hand politely. “How can I help you?”

She held out a report card. “Mr. Hyde, we need a little clarification on this remark Charlie’s teacher made. We just can’t make it out.”

“In fact,” she continued, “”none of our friends can decipher it, either. We had a bunch in for a party last evening and for fun we passed Charlie’s report card around — even offered a prize if anyone could tell us what it said — but none of them could. So I thought I’d better get the answer from you.”

Hyde opened the report card and looked long and hard at the comment. “I’m really sorry, Mrs. Johnson, but I simply can’t read it. I believe it’s Mr. Thwaite’s writing, though. Let’s get him in here to tell us what it says.”

Mr. Hyde reached for the intercom button by his desk and paged Mr. Thwaite, who came hurrying to the office.

Thwaite glanced at Mrs. Johnson and nodded, then asked, “What can I help you with, Mr. Hyde?”

“I can’t make out what this remark says and Mrs. Johnson here would like to know. Could you kindly interpret it for us.”

Thwaite flushed slightly and took the offered report card. He looked at the indecipherable scribble for a few minutes, looked blankly at the wall, then back at the report card. His face lit up as the light dawned. “Yes, I remember now. It says, ‘Charlie needs to take more care with his handwriting’.”

(A sad but true tale related by Principle Hyde – perhaps at his retirement party? 🙂 )

(Story redone from an old Friendship Book. Originally posted in Christine Composes March 2013)

“What’s A Miracle?”

Years back a young minister would make the rounds of his parish at random. Being a bachelor himself, he never gave much thought to the time of routines in other homes. He seemed quite unaware of what time most people ate their dinner and that sort of thing. Consequently he was very apt to knock on a parishioner’s door not long before the family was ready to sit down to a meal.

One day he arrived at one family’s home not long before dinner and was invited to sit in the parlor until the man of the house finished up a few chores. Then he was welcome to  join them for the meal if he wished. While he sat there, the couple’s small son came in. After shaking hands and saying a polite the lad looked up at the minister and asked, “Sir, can you tell me what’s a miracle?”

The Minister tried to come up with a simple enough explanation that the lad could understand. Then he asked, “Why are you wondering about miracles?”

“Because when Mom saw you coming up the walk she told Dad, ‘Here comes the minister and it will be a miracle if he doesn’t stay for supper.’ ”

As Grandma used to say: “Little pitchers have big ears.”

My Friends 

If you ever wonder what to say to someone who’s grieving, this post is a must-read. While it specifically addresses the death of a child, I think the wisdom here is useful for anyone who’s lost a loved one.

kathleenbduncan

I have friends who have had miscarriages.

I have friends who have had stillbirths.

I have friends who lost a baby to SIDS.

I have friends whose child drowned.

I have friends whose child died from cancer.

I have friends whose child died in a tornado.

I have friends whose child died from suicide.

I have friends whose child was murdered.

I have friends whose child died in a motorcycle wreck.

I have friends whose child died after a skateboard accident.

I have friends whose child died in a freak accident.

I have friends whose child died from heart disease or asthma or diabetes.

I have friends whose child died from drug overdose.

I have friends whose child died in a car wreck.

None of them like to take about the details of their child’s death.

They all love to speak of how their child lived.

When you meet a…

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