Sunday, June 14, 2009

thanks dad

by Ronald Wallace

My father always knew the secret
name of everything—
stove bolt and wing nut,
set screw and rasp, ratchet
wrench, band saw, and ball—
peen hammer. He was my
tour guide and translator
through that foreign country
with its short-tempered natives
in their crewcuts and tattoos,
who suffered my incompetence
with gruffness and disgust.
Pay attention, he would say,
and you'll learn a thing or two.

Now it's forty years later,
and I'm packing up his tools
(If you know the proper
names of things you're never
at a loss)
tongue-tied, incompetent,
my hands and heart full
of doohickeys and widgets,
whatchamacallits, thingamabobs.

I know I am a week early for Father's Day but today is my dad's birthday - as the local radio station used to say 'he would've been 91 had he lived…'

I never really got to know him, wish I had. When I was little he was either at work or asleep in his chair… as a self-absorbed teenager I just saw him as my ride, he was always carting me around to ballgames or wherever I needed to be. Marriage gave me the escape from home that so many kids long for and I never looked back, except for the obligatory holiday visits….

He spent most of his adult life in the army, traveled to Europe, Japan, Korea, and many less exotic places like Texas, North Carolina, Alabama… I am sure he had some great stories about all his adventures, I should've asked him and wrote them down.

He retired from the service when I was 10 and we moved to the mountains of north Georgia. Thanks, Dad for moving us to the beautiful mountains, I still love them! And thanks for all those long walks in the woods, by streams and over mountains, now I appreciate your love of nature.

My dad was very easy going, laid back, always smiling, positive, teasing, funny, smart, and apparently very tolerant as he put up with my mom all those years.

He loved to putter around his workshop like most guys do, whether he was really working on something or just escaping from the house. I saw the above poem a while back and it reminded me of him.

I wish my girls could have known him.

Happy Birthday Dad, I wish we could take a hike together today.

~ Hardware by Ronald Wallace virtually published on the Writer's Almanac

1 comment:

janeywan said...

A very nice tribute for your Dad.

Boy if only we knew now what we didn't know then. My dad is gone just a little over a year now. The hole in my heart seems to get bigger every day.