I’ve been going through boxes in my family’s effort to clean and organize our home (a battle that has been going on for six years now). I opened a heavy cardboard box, the musty smell lingering in my nostrils. The box is full of pictures—hundreds, maybe over a thousand–from my Dad’s life. There are an inordinate amount of pictures of me, but also many, many pictures of people I don’t recognize at all. I have my work cut out for me.
Dad passed away when I was thirteen. He was 46 when I was born, and already had adult children, so there was a whole life there that I knew very little about. I won’t bore/sadden you with details of how just about everything pertaining to my Dad disappeared for the rest of my youth, but suffice it to say that this box is essentially all I have of him. It was given to me when I was about 24 years old. Since then, I occasionally pull things out and piece together what his life must have been like, and what HE was like, beyond the few memories I personally have of him.
My dad was many things: Teamster, welder, carpenter, salesman, bartender (I think–judging from pictures), terrible father, awesome father, good friend, genealogist, dutiful son….. and poet. I am going to put up one of his poems for all (my 4 readers) to see:
Restless Soul (by Lee Lay)
Like the winds that blow thru the high skies
and the waves that roll thru the sea
Like the shifting sands of the desert
is this restless soul in me.
Like the birds that fly thru the air so free
and the wild things that roam alone
Is this restless soul inside of me
that won’t let me stay at home.
To have the things that other men have
I know can never be
As long as this restless soul in me
keeps yearning to be free.
I’m like the wind and like the birds
I’m like the waves and the sand
To stay in one place very long
is more than I can stand.
All you happy people have pity upon me
For I can never be like you
My restless soul
Won’t let me free.
To me, Dad was silly, strong, mischievous, and devil-may-care–this poem, and a few others like it, taught me that he had a melancholy inside that most didn’t see. I wish I could have had more of an opportunity to know him.
The good news is that I feel him with me all the time. I also see him in the mirror, and in my children. Lastly, I know that I will be with him again when at last we all meet in heaven.