When I was a teenager, I resented my father for being harsh and domineering. Years of forgiveness and my own experience as a father have helped to soften that perspective. He passed away eleven years ago.
Recently, my own harsh and domineering side come up again in a situation regarding youth behavior. I still have an old bone that comes out to be chewed upon from time to time. I suppose that reason why it comes up, once again, is to forgive, once again.
As I think of Dad, I also think of duty and obligation. However, forgiveness is letting go of that old bone too. It allows warmer blessings to be remembered.
Underneath the rigid duty, there is still appreciation – big and glowing more than ever before. So I offer this piece in love of my father. It’s also for all fathers with the upcoming Father’s Day.
Duty called on him… often.
And he answered.
At 15, he had many more duties than years.
7 younger siblings,
One mother… no father… one Great Depression
One struggling farm… many debts.
Duty called to work the drilling rigs… a tough man.
Duty called to save the farm and family… a tender man.
All holding on, through Depression times.
No more school.
No more youth.
At 27, Duty called to serve his country.
He was familiar with Duty’s harsh orders… a tough man.
Duty serves as Duty does,
With sternness for commanding others too.
Soon, the enemy was beaten.
And many friends too.
Duty rested while Freedom tried again.
One wife… many children,
And farms going nowhere.
Duty called again.
Construction crews to boss.
All tough men… with tender intentions.
Eight kids to feed.
Always generous and fair,
With little he had to share.
Laughter left the marriage.
With all children launched,
They had finished their Duty.
Maybe Duty kept them together,
With children gone… they parted.
Nearly done all duties, I asked him
“Do you believe in life after this?”
Pragmatic, he answered
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out!”
Perhaps, he has his answer.
Now, thanks to Dad,
The tough duties are few.
Still we share,
One tender duty,
In this: We care.