I Miss My Father

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I miss my father.

Not the last, lingering days when the ravages of Parkinson’s stripped his body of strength and dignity,

not the growing quiet and dimming light, the betrayal of senses with the ambush of age and degeneration,

not the loss of skill and purpose with increasing dependence.

I miss the stories, the laughter, the dropping of the false teeth to scare innocent children.

I miss the sawing afternoon naps in the recliner, the dirt between the fingernails, and the smelly old farm boots.

I miss him, dusty and weary, still willing to amaze his children at day’s end by playing a bit of softball in the failing light—and hitting that ball to kingdom come.

I miss stealing sips of his instant coffee and codependent sampling of forbidden pies.

It’s the wisdom, I miss most. The forgiveness and acceptance, the knowing that in my stupidest moments, he was still my rock, my shelter, my willing warrior.

I looked at his picture on my dresser today, and a tear caught in my throat because as long as it’s been and
as surely as life has gone on,
there are some days in this topsy-turvy world,
I really miss my father.

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Words Fall

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Words, syllables, inflections,

breathed and yelled, soft and loud,

mouthed and thought, heard and not,

written and spoken,

valued and ignored, but so weighty for the one who owns them, for that one desperate to be treasured.

When we begin, words tumble out in disjointed digraphs and stutters,

cheered and encouraged by proud parents who imagine brilliance with each blurb; but

with time and teaching, the excitement diminishes, and like with any drug, the content needs to be more potent to illicit the same reaction, from spelling bees to grad speeches to wedding toasts and dissertations.

The audiences change, and the stories get retold; successful soliloquies get notched on the belt of significance as the words ebb and flow with the rhythms of life. But then

those who are really listening grow fewer, and more and more voices fill the air, diluting, refuting, and polluting

the airwaves,

the pulsing megabytes,

the pixelated opinions that fill our moments, competing with our aging soul-words.

And it is that—soul.

It is as if we start to live a little less, feel a little less, when our words fall to the ground just beyond our lips, buried in the myriad messages that surround and clutter the unnourished imagination.

And I wonder if all this noise will be forever the way of things—if loss and longing, poetry and song, description and discerning will lose their distinctiveness in the throes of hashtags, vlogs, and all the literary litter that swirls like gnats.