Feeling Sentimental; Missing my Father

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I’ve been sending off query letters every week, hoping to catch the attention of an agent willing to take a risk and represent my manuscript, My Father’s Hands. I write about how my relationship with my father inspired and defined me. I share with complete strangers the depths of my connection and the despair I felt in his passing. Sometimes I write those words with a detached complacency born from repetition and the passage of time. Other times the tears streak down my cheeks as if it was only yesterday.

 

In truth, it has been sixteen years. I hadn’t done the math, but the other day I was showing a photo of my dad to someone and they asked when he passed. I told them in 2000, and it was a shock to me that so much time had passed. Sometimes I speak as if it were a recent event. It is often the case with memories; elusive, fragmented and hazy.

 

At any rate, I’ve decided to honour my feelings towards my father in today’s blog by sharing two poems I wrote about him. The first is now the Prelude in My Father’s Hands, the novel. I wrote the poem for his funeral and it ended up becoming the outline for the book. The second is the Epilogue, which I wrote only recently in my thirteenth and final edit. Together they are the beginning and the end; the story encompasses everything in between.

 

Prelude

When I was born

My father’s hands were young hands.

They held me when I cried

And patted my back to sleep.

They tickled me on my tiny toes

And held my bottle while he fed me.

My father’s hands were perfect

For encompassing a baby girl.

 

When I was small

My father’s hands were busy hands.

They held my hands to show me the

Feel of swinging a baseball bat

And threaded bait onto fishing lines.

They pierced marshmallows onto campfire sticks

And steadied my bicycle when I learned to ride.

My father’s hands were perfect

For playing with a little girl.

 

When I was a teenager

My father’s hands were worried hands.

They wrung themselves together

When I didn’t bother to call

And grasped me firmly when

I didn’t come home at all.

My father’s hands were perfect

For caring about his growing girl.

 

When I was a young woman

My father’s hands were relieved hands.

They could let go a little now,

Making room for my husbands’ hands in my life

While remaining strong for me.

They held my excited hands as I walked down the aisle,

Waved to me when I moved away,

And welcomed me whenever I returned.

My father’s hands were perfect

For setting free his little girl.

 

When I became a mother

My father’s hands were teaching hands.

They showed me the “magic touch” when Michelle was crying,

Wound up the motorized swing when Tamara was colicky,

And turned the pages of Kevin’s favorite stories.

My father’s hands were perfect

For nurturing my children.

 

Several years ago

My father’s hands became crippled hands.

Rheumatoid arthritis bent them, giving them pain.

It was hard for him to do the things he wanted to do.

His hands needed medications and operations.

They became tired and it was my turn to be strong.

My father’s hands were perfect

For loving me.

 

Two weeks ago

My father’s hands became ravaged hands.

Infection spread into them yet they comforted me

As I held them and stood helplessly by his bedside.

They managed, even amid such struggle,

To return my affectionate grasp;

An unequaled gift of love and reassurance.

My father’s hands were perfect

For speaking to me.

 

Today my father’s hands are gone.

They are in God’s hands.

They cannot encompass me, play with me,

Care for me, let me go, nurture my children,

Love me or speak to me.

They cannot give him any more pain.

My father’s hands are perfect,

Forever in my memory.

 

Epilogue

Looking out the window into the dark night sky

I glimpse the beginning of a new and spectacular dawn.

The sky in the east transforms from inky black to rusty indigo.

It slowly melts into magenta, then dissolves into a soft cherry pink,

Creating candy cane clouds.

I gaze transfixed.

The sky seems to speak to me of promises and dreams

Of someplace I recognize

But feels like long ago.

 

Daddy, I remember you.

Playing baseball.

Standing at the plate,

Legs planted firmly,

Expression deadpan.

Then looking over at me,

Sitting in the bleachers;

A conspiratorial wink.

The pitcher releases the ball,

It sails through the air.

You swing the bat.

Crack.

It makes contact.

You drop the bat in the dirt,

And start running.

 

I pray that somewhere in that forever sky

You are running free,

Looking over me,

Connected in spirit for eternity.

 

I pick up my pen,

And begin to write.

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Feeling sentimental; missing my father.

4 thoughts on “Feeling Sentimental; Missing my Father

  1. Carol says:

    Linda, from deep in my soul I thank you for this sharing. It has awakened places in my heart that I don’t often visit because they bring forth sadness; too many losses to remember…
    But now, today, I can also feel the joy of all the beautiful moments I have been blessed with; even though those I shared them with are no longer of this earth they are with me still. xx

    Like

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