Shouldn’t there be a Fathers Day for Fathers Lost?

shouldn’t there be a fathers day for fathers lost
like the old bald man with shaky hands
who sat on the roof with me that sunny perfect october afternoon
listening to the sony transistor radio as brooklyn dodger after brooklyn dodger
went down swinging even jackie robinson couldn’t get a hit
even jackie robinson couldn’t get to first base
dad you explained to me baseball history was going down in yankeetown
and yes I’ve been a yankee fan since 1956
I wonder what you would think if you knew don larsen’s
jersey was auctioned on ebay for $756,000
more dollars than you made all those years banging away
on your old remington typewriter at the newspaper office
the place you gave your soul to
but I’m not complaining because you took me along
you taught me everything I know
except spelling because you always corrected my copy
that never stopped me though I thank you not just for the skills
the hard work focus fair play but more for the standing up for oneself
you screamed go to hell and slammed down the phone
when disagreeable readers called you at home
I’m still really sorry dad I really did want to win a pulitzer prize
before you died a way I thought to repay you though I never did and never will
I called you every fathers day
until you were gone
then I called my father-in-law the grocery store man
yes even after I was divorced I still called him on fathers day
I called him dad I reminded him
how we sat in his backyard after the barbecue was over
eating more corn on the cob
dad I’d say you always had the sweetest corn the fattest steaks
the most gracious style for a father of four rambunctious girls
the most beautiful lebanese wife this side of the red sea
who I still call mom
how we also had fun eating thin slices of frozen raw liver
followed by shots of old crow on new years eve
which he claimed was a middle eastern tradition some tradition
you made this up didn’t you
I can still hear your chuckle
so swell to have known someone with such a chuckle
you taught me life can be joyful if you just look at it that way
the first fathers day when both my dads were gone
I cried thinking how dignified they looked in their caskets
one dad with double breasted suit colorful wide striped silk tie
the other in crisp army uniform that still fit perfectly
the greatest American generation returned to earth
destroyers of nazis
so naturally I turned to my sons and sons-in-law
determined to be a good father just like my dads were to me
I called jeff in utah
thank you jeff my granddaughters in utah have such a hard working dad
who keeps bread on the table
I called charles in california thank you charles my granddaughters
in california have such a fun dad
who commands respect and takes no prisoners
and I called john in missouri
thank you john all those grandchildren you’ve adopted more than I can ever hope
to keep track of
have such a big hearted dad
but now its 2013 and this particular fathers day is simply too much to bear
I once naively thought nothing could be more sad when old dads die
but now I know it’s sadder still when young dads die
hey charles where are you
why did you go so soon what’s with this cancer you had
you were the one dad who lived nearby who I could count on
for basketball games late nights at the bar hanging out
in my backyard always there for your girls you never missed
the violin recitals you took them to capoeira made sure they behaved
charles you were so creative coming up with nicknames
ruglebug for jamaica, inzahzi-ali for xaire,
t2 for the dog jk for your mom-in-law jackie
you should have made it big in some naming agency
nicknames for everyone but me you simply called me david
from you I always felt such great respect
but thank you anyway for sharing mutual adulation for cassius clay
rumble in the jungle you said you hung out with the champ in miami or was it la
thrilla in Manila float like butterfly slay the big ugly bear and we all know the rest
i imagine you must be roaming around some heavenly man-fatherland
with my dear son aaron
who at age 26 went to sleep in his fancy room at the waldorf astoria and never woke up
with your brother eddie cut down at 19
our friend scuba-diver-brad recently drowned at sea
3 potential dads checked out early
no I don’t think I’ll bother this father’s day
grilling burgers or going to the ole ball game oh I’ll make a few calls
but mostly i’ll just reflect on all those fathers
and would be fathers lost

–David Bunnell

 

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