Old Man Green

by Edgar Guest

Old Man Green you’ve never heard of,
papers never used a word of
him or anything he did.
Seems as though his light was hid
day by day from mortal eyes,
wasn’t clever, great or wise;
just a carpenter who made
odds and ends and liked his trade.

Old Man Green lived over there
in that humble cottage, where
five plump babies came to bless
those small rooms with happiness
and as time went on they grew
just as rich men’s children do:
three smart boys and two fine girls
with the prettiest of curls.

Old Man Green from day to day
put up shelves to earn his pay,
took the little that he made
following faithfully his trade
and somehow his wife and he
managed it most carefully
and five children, neat and clean,
answered to the name of Green.

Old Man Green with saw and plane
little from the world could gain,
but with that small sum he earned
many things his children learned.
“Those Green boys,” the teachers said,
“Have the stuff to get ahead.
Finest girls we’ve ever seen,
little Kate and Mary Green.”

This is all there is to tell,
boys and girls are doing well;
each with courage and with grace
fills in life an honored place.
Old Man Green is dead and gone,
but his worth is shining on;
this his praise, if praise be needed,
As a father he succeeded.

From his book The Light of Faith
©1926 by the Reilly & Lee Co.

The Ages of Women

Another Friday Fictioneers prompt has come around and I’m cheating a bit this time. I’ve had this story in mind ever since I read about the three ages of women. No, I can’t claim credit for this bit of wisdom. it apparently comes from a Scottish grandma — whose name I of course can’t locate now when I want it. 😦

I realized lately that my new cell phone has no frowny faces, only variations of Happy-face. Is this a giant plot by a multinational corporation to force callers to make cheerful replies?

Anyway, with a happy smile I want to thank Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting this multi-aged group of writers — and for this week’s photo prompt as well. If you wish to join the gang in responding to this prompt, check out Rochelle’s blog, Addicted to Purple. (Does someone care to offer a countering “Three ages of men” version?)

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Three Ages of Women

Helen squeezed Hazel’s arm. “I’m so glad you decided to join me on this trip. Travel’s much more enjoyable with a friend.”

“Well, I had been thinking I should stay home. Thought my children might not be able to manage without my helpful advice. Older and wiser, you know. Then a friend enlightened me on the three ages of a woman: ‘Muddle age, middle age, and meddle age’.

Helen’s laughter echoed in the narrow passage. “I’ll remember that one.”

Hazel grinned. “So I decided I’d better get some new interests in life before I slip into that last one.”

The Scenic Route

Blazing A New Trail

For some reason this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt inspired me with another take on this scene, so I hope you’ll all bear with me.

In our early married life — back when GPS hadn’t entered its inventor’s dreams yet — my adventurous husband eschewed maps. As we wandered our way through new territory he would occasionally quote Daniel Boone, which went something like:
“I’m never lost. I may go for weeks not knowing where exactly I am…but I’m never lost.”

I’ve created another driver with the same adventurous soul — who took a wrong turn somewhere.

Photo © Ted Strutz

“Well, Dan’l Boone,” Dot Kentucky-twanged as their car pulled into the ferry crossing line behind several others. “New territory to explore?”

Jay frowned. “I’m not lost. Maybe somewhat misplaced at the moment.”

Colton, their youngest, stared over the back seat. “We’re going on a boat? There’s never been a river on the way to Grandpas before.”

“This isn’t Route 85, either,” Clark added. “When will we connect with that again?”

“A little miscalculation. Hang in there, guys. We’ll get there.”

“Okay, you two.” Dot threw them a quick glare-and-wink. “Dad’s taking the scenic route this time. Let’s enjoy the view.”

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.

Troy’s Wake-Up Call

A writing prompt I did one time. We were to give someone a weird day in an alternate universe. I decided on a successful businessman suddenly stuck in a body that won’t move.

WHAM!

As a reward for our recent hard work, our sales team had chosen to spend a few days at a resort renowned for its golf greens. I was flying in with my small plane and everything was A-okay. Visibility was great; the tarmac stretched out invitingly; my landing gear was unfolding as it should.

It would have been a perfect landing — if only those crazy birds had stayed put.

In my descent I could see the hotel and fairway on my left in the distance. I also took note of the winding stream below as I brought my small plane down, focused on the strip of asphalt ahead. I never saw the two birds they say rose up from the river below. I only felt a violent jerk as something hit the prop and I lost control.

I woke up flat out on a bed, hearing blimps and bleeps from machines and soft voices. Definitely hospital sounds. I tried to open my eyes or turn my head, but my body was like stone. I couldn’t stay awake.

I came to later, hearing familiar voices right near my bed. My wife, Lacey, my mom and dad. They were murmuring, talking about the crash of a small plane, a bird in the prop. Some memory started coming back to me. I tried to open my eyes, to make some noise. I tried moving my hand, my foot — anything to let them know I was awake — but my body refused to cooperate. I couldn’t even tell that I even had arms or legs. Maybe I didn’t? Had they been amputated? That thought scared the living daylights out of me.

“How long do you think it will be until he comes out of this?” I could hear the fear in Lacey’s voice.

Another voice, professional, yet kind. “We can never be sure. A lot of patients with similar injuries come to within a week or two. Some don’t.”

NO! I don’t want to lie here another week or two, I want to get up, move around. Then his last words buzzed around in my brain, torturing me. Some don’t. Ever.

“What are the chances that Troy will live a normal life?” Dad’s voice.

“That’s impossible to determine until he wakes up and we assess how much neurological damage has been done. But we really shouldn’t be discussing this here. Some patients do hear even if they can’t respond.”

Hours passed — or was it days? I came to many times and tried to move, but it was like someone had set me in concrete. What I wouldn’t give to at least say a few words, find out what was going on! When the doctor was in the room I tried my hardest to scream, but not even a squeak came out.

I lived for the visits of my family. Lacey brought Kyle and Tianna. They were full of questions “Why can’t Daddy open his eyes?” Lacey explained, “Daddy’s in a coma. It’s like he’s asleep. But maybe he can hear us, so talk to him.”

“How long will he have to stay there?” Poor kids. They didn’t understand, but they tried.

Lacey urged them to tell me things about their day, so Kyle told me about school. Tianna told me about the new girl on our street. Their voices were like a lifesaver to a drowning sailor. If only I could communicate just how much those visits meant to me.

I made a vow. When I come out of this, I’m going to tell them every day how sweet their voices sound.

Even the medical people brightened my dark world. How I wish I could tell them that! I knew from the few comments the nurses made right by my bed that they were moving me, washing me, but I felt nothing. Much as I hated to be so helpless, their snatches of gossip as they worked with me reassured me that I was still in the land of the living.

Then came that marvelous day when my eyes opened.

If you only knew what it’s like to live in a dark shadow for days — or was it even weeks? — and then one day be able to see light and color and living, moving people. Wonderful is far too small a word. It’s like saying the Grand Canyon is large. And to see the faces of Lacey, the kids, my parents, standing around me with great big grins. To see the hope shining in their eyes when I said my first words.

The only thing better was the day I took my first shuffling steps. This was the first step of my new life as a husband, a father, a son. Thank God for second chances!