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Father Lessons

FATHER LESSONS

Pontiac to Patterson, 1962 - 1978

031609

For as long as I can remember

I’ve heard your resonant voice

Flow like a spring-fed stream

With ideas, opinions and conviction;

Sometimes forcing me to wrestle

With thoughts opposing my own,

Others extending a helping hand

To my own formulating mind.

 

But echoing louder than your voice

Has been the witness of your living,

From the plains of the mundane

To the rocky pinnacles of crisis,

My psychological tape recorder

Stored the lessons you taught,

Though you weren’t always aware

Your life was being watched.


Contrary to the opinion of many,

The status quo is not the pinnacle,

But the lower form of achievement.

Never one to accept the average,

But always reaching for the heights,

Life’s brush illustrated the horizon

And I learned lesson number one:

In a phrase, “Good enough, isn’t.”

 

Like old commercials for a people

Whose education was disposable,

Recognition of the innate treasure

Resident in the human intellect,

Exercising its breathtaking promise

Our common household exercise.

The second lesson firmly ingrained:

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

 

Beneath expansive night skies,

Contemplating the vast universe,

Awed by its beauty and mystery,

Captivated by all it might contain.

Exploring its outermost reaches,

As well its unfathomable Container:

A third, gained on classroom lawn:

“There is such a thing as awesome.”

 

In a world in which primary concern

Tends to be one’s personal gain

Or greatest strategic advantage,

Your focus, the opposite direction:

Whether marriage or vocation,

Or for some transcendent cause,

I learned, “There are some things

Worth giving up everything for.”

 

Humility and peace notwithstanding,

Showing what you cared about most,

There was no mistaking the things

On which no deal could be reached:

Integrity, love, justice and faith,

Comprised your non-negotiables.

Number five: “There are some things

Worth standing and fighting for.”

 

It’s not that everything I learned

Merited such recorded memory.

Life has its pain and frustration,

And father-son love’s not exempt.

But through the voice of your living,

These lessons inspire me to aspire

To speak loudly without use of words,

And live a life that’s worthy of watching.