Sunday, August 4, 2013


Little children came and grew
Moved away and never knew
Who I was or who I am
No they never knew this lonely man
("Faithful Son" by Patty Griffin)

**I didn't want to walk through that door, didn't want to cross the threshold into your world or harsh opinions and unwelcome criticism.

Home from college for the weekend, it was the last thing I wanted to do, spend time with you. We'd sit in your living room, the television our background noise, while you asked me obligatory questions and I gave you as truthful and polished answers as I could.

There was a time before that, high school, where we had that parade. Remember that one? You were mad at me. I chose a friend over you. I think it was silly. Except now, I think it was silly on both of our parts.

We didn't get this way overnight. We both know it was 18 years in the making.

Do you remember the time you grabbed me by the shoulders and marched me to the back to raise your voice at me? Did I even know what I'd done wrong. You were quick to punish; reluctant to listen. I remember. I listened to every word you did and did not say. We all did.

And that is why, on those weekends home, I did not want to see you.

But life had not been kind. Your years were longer and harder than mine will ever be.

I did not know that then. I know that now.


Your garden was the fruit of your labors. The corn grew tall. The potatoes grew deep and large. The peas, we shelled on the back porch, with the sun shining through.

The floors we walked, the walls that kept us, the shrimp in the fryer, these were the fruit of your years of hard work, your years of proving to yourself and to everyone else just how hard work can be and how good the reward.

Those are good memories, now that I can see through those first years after you were gone. I can remember them again.

My 28-year old self knows what my 18-year old self did not know - that you gave us what you could, you gave us what you had to give. There are a great number of things about you that we'll never know. Pain and tears and joy and secrets and things of which I am sure you were ashamed.

And I never would tell you then
So I never will tell you now
All the things that break an old man down
The real truth is, I don’t know how
("Faithful Son" by Patty Griffin)

I am learning to love you now, by this grace that comes only through the time and space of years and silence. And I am remembering, more clearly, that you did love us. You did often beam with pride when talking to others about us, and you gave to use the the things you knew, the things you took a lifetime to learn.

My own regrets rise to the surface, too. That I did not take so many more things you would have given. That I did not yet know grace in a true enough way to extend it towards you.

And so I know that I, too, will spend a lifetime learning to love.

(**I sat on the couch today, listening to Patty Griffin's new album "American Kid", and cried. I could see my grandfathers so clearly. They are gone now. But I can beginning to see them more clearly, now, than I ever did before.)

1 comment:

Matthew Clark said...

Good one Abbye. Appreciate it.