I miss my dad. Like most little girls, I thought my dad was the most handsome, most fun, and most loving father on the planet. When he died in 2005, a little piece of me died with him–but a lot of him still lives in me and in those who loved him. At the time of his death, I was teaching a poetry unit to my English students, and as we neared Christmas, for fun, I assigned them the task of writing their own words to the rhyme scheme and rhythm in “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore. Of course, I had to set the example, and so I wrote about what was on my mind, my dad. Here is my tribute to him, written Nov. 30, 2005, about a week before he died. Somehow, as my siblings and I surrounded his bedside, I managed to read it aloud to him.
A Tribute to My Dad
‘Twas the time of his illness, and all through my mind
Ran the memories of Dad’s life, too short was the time.
His children surrounded his hospital bed
Trying to show love with the things that were said.
My father was chilly though snug in his bed,
His circulation poor, cold up to his head.
Unable to absorb the nutrients we gave,
He’d declined much and now his condition was grave.
When I looked at my dad, I felt such a sadness
To see such a lively man end up like this.
But I chose to remember the good times we’d had
For most of our life, times had not been that bad.
In fact, as I thought of his days almost gone
My mind summed up Dad in a memory of song.
Those days driving homeward on cars short on gas
Singing praises to Jesus as the miles did pass.
Rebuking old Satan with a song you made up
Or singing that silly “… Freckles on her, but”
Or “Down by the Old Mill Stream” with a droll echo
And “Mareseatoats and doeseatoats,” this we know!
Now praising! Now silly!
The songs we enjoyed so!
Some old songs! Some new songs!
In our hearts we did know
That Jesus was central no matter the song
Sacred or silly renditions weren’t wrong.
For our hearts were united in a myriad of songs.
In my mind, those memories cheer all the day long.
But that isn’t all that your life was about
Your work ethic to me especially stands out.
You taught me to work hard no matter the hour
To give of my best and to walk in God’s power.
(You also said try to get paid by the job
Since I worked fast, deserved more than hours I logged.)
Having said that, of course, you did still log my time
Though my mowing and weeding were nearly sublime.
The days that we spent and the words that we shared
Meant much more than the pay, and I hadn’t a care.
My most precious memories are times that you cried
For those tears let me know just what went on inside.
They told me you loved me in ways words can’t say.
I knew I was special; I was more than OK.
Your smile and laugh at your own corny puns
Made us groan but still laugh, and we kept having fun
Sometimes at our serious Mom’s own expense
But she mostly laughed with us and took no offense.
You were joyful and pleasant to many a clerk
Speaking kind words and cracking jokes with a smirk.
My friends called you “Dad” and found you delightful.
We were never ashamed, nor thought you were frightful.
In fact, we are proud to claim you as our dad.
You worked hard, you loved us; how can we be sad?
You honored dear Jesus wherever you went
On souls for the kingdom your time here was spent.
Your mornings were given to praying for us.
You sought the Lord’s face and you transferred so much
Of the knowledge of Father God’s love for us all
That it’s easy to trust in His grace when we fall.
Thank you for being a man of the Word.
Your life made a difference; your words have been heard.
Your legacy continues, though you may depart
For your precious memory remains in my heart.