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.

Results and Roses

by Edgar Guest

The man who wants a garden fair,
or small or very big,
with flowers growing here and there,
must bend his back and dig.

The things are mighty few on earth
that wishes can attain;
whate’er we want of any worth
we’ve got to work to gain.

It matters not what goal you seek,
its secret here reposes:
you’ve got to dig from week to week
to get results and roses.

From his book, A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by the Reilly & Britton Company

The Lily Bulb Rescue

My story started at the end of February 2010, a few weeks after our local Walmart received a shipment of spring bulbs. The bulbs had been packed in wood shavings and sealed in plastic bags with small air holes so they wouldn’t mould. The bags came in colourful display boxes so customers could admire the potential flowers and hopefully purchase the bulbs.

But it was still winter. Those bulbs should have been stored in a dark, cool place for another two months, but when they arrived at Walmart they were put on display in a warm, light environment. After a week or so they decided it must be spring and started sending out shoots.

Around two weeks later I happened to be in Walmart and wandered over to the display. A mental alarm bell started ringing, warning me to keep away from anything living – like plants. I already had a couple of African Violet “rescues” at home blooming their hearts out. But, drawn by the appealing colours, I yielded to temptation and checked out the lily bulbs.

I picked up several packages and examined them. This is a no-no for me, because I know what shape Walmart seasonal plants are often in: sadly neglected and suffering. And these definitely were.

By this time the shoots were from three to six inches long and reaching for light in whatever direction it could be found, hampered by those tiny bags. Some stems had grown a few inches, hit the end of the bag and turned around in a U. Some snaked like an S. They’d all grown as far as they possibly could and their topmost leaves, crammed up against plastic, would soon start to rot. It amazed me that the store hadn’t discounted them yet.

Seeing things like this always irks me. In most of these huge marts plants have a certain time to sell – a time when some effort is put forth to keep them alive – but after that initial period if it lives it lives; if it dies it dies. (Which is why I came to carry home some bedraggled looking African violets another day.) I know it’s business as usual, but these are living things. They need some care. And if things start to go south, put the plants on sale and move them out as soon as possible. Rotting leaves don’t make for an attractive display.

Okay. I have a soft heart and/or a weak mind. I searched through the plastic bags and found the bulbs with the longest, kinkiest, shoots, the ones most in danger of being hopelessly deformed. I did limit myself to three bags, though – three dozen bulbs – and carried them to the cashier, wondering all the while if I should get into therapy. When I got them home I immediately opened the packages to give the poor leaves a reprieve from the threat of mould.

Now what? It would be at least another month until I would even see the garden (now under four feet of snow.) I couldn’t leave the bulbs sit until then. Fortunately I had a bag of peat moss on hand and half a bag of potting soil, so I got a basin and mixed up a batch of soil, hunted up some old plastic pots and planted the things. When I ran out of pots, I found a stack of disposable plastic tumblers in the cupboard, and employed them in my rescue operation.

It wasn’t very easy to plant the bulbs, as kinky as their shoots were. I had to weigh down some of the pots so the heavy shoots hanging upside down over the edge wouldn’t pull the whole pot over. But I planted all thirty-six and set them in our wide, cool windowsill where they’d get the morning sun.

A couple of weeks went by and the shoots slowly reoriented themselves toward the light. Some remained a bit kinky at the base, but most of them straightened up nicely. About eight weeks later I planted them in the garden, wondering how they’d take the chilly spring nights. They held up well; every last one survived and grew into a nice, upright plant.

In July they bloomed – and they were gorgeous! I took a bouquet to the seniors’ home and the folks marvelled at their beauty, their colour and scent. One lady who was visiting there the next day called me to ask what variety they were. She thought I must have purchased some really special collection.

I told her, “Yes, in fact I did.” And she laughed when I told her about their “upbringing.”

Word Press daily prompt word: Reprieve

“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.”