To My Dad

There is an image I will never forget. It is an embarrassing one, but one that reveals to me the heart of what it means to be a provider. It is an inspirational picture. I don’t think I am made of the same kind of flesh and blood, courage and discipline, that it takes to do what my dad does. I am convinced I could do it out of necessity, but not like him. I couldn’t do it as healthily and while maintaining the same kind of relationship with God as my dad does. The image: my dad sitting at the kitchen table in his underwear…at about 5:30 in the morning, reading his bible before heading to work. This is my high school remembrance of him. Working three jobs, one of them an in home business on his family time. The other he did at night after he got off his day job. Some days he would come home, change out of his golfer slacks and polos and slip into jeans and a white T-shirt, leaving him just enough time to microwave two hot dogs before he slipped out the door again. He did it for us. He did it for my mom. He did it over and over. That image will always be with me. Reminding me that God can be found in the early morning, sipping coffee and sitting in his underwear.

 

Early Morning Men

 

Early morning-men.

Awakened in part by backlit alarms

And in part by the echoes of children

Crying their dreams.

 

Early morning-men.

Stirring the sun to dawn

With deep mugs, blacker than

The night through which they slept

—Half-Caf—half because it is only

The warmth they need to break the

Spell of the cold night.

 

They leave their homes after goodbyes,

Forehead and cheek kisses

Acknowledged by slumbering eyes,

And rhythmic breathes, the reasons

They breathe themselves.

 

Early morning-men.

Hands hiding in coat pockets

Searching for change and keys and inspiration.

Chins buried in collars and scarves,

Enduring the frigid daybreak air

On the way out the door, the wind

Stabbing through fabric and fibers of being.

Men trudging content to a bus or a barn,

Lowered eyes shielded by brims,

But moving, not lifeless, with dutiful intent.

 

Mourning-men. Early

To the clock that keeps them,

Punching in.

Late to the families that love them,

They hold it in.

They hold it in.

 

Early Mourning-men.

Mourning late into the night,

Mourning three jobs, all held down

So they can hold up their heads

As they walk through the door

To the home they don’t own,

To the rooms they don’t know

To kiss the heads of the children

They haven’t been able to hold.

 

They hold it in.

Mourning men.

Crawling back into comfortable beds,

Hoping to be awakened once again

By the night time stirring of monsters

Hiding in the minds of their kids.

 

Mourning men. They mourn.

For the break of morning

When they must do it all again,

Pack their lunches and punch in,

But never clocking out for their jobs

As Fathers, Husbands, friends.

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