3/16/1910 – 6/13/1974
His family’s oldest son,
35 years he’s now been gone.
He’d have turned 100 this year,
somehow that doesn’t seem so long.
My generation was soft,
when compared to that of my dad.
Oh, we had some tough times,
but nothing like what he had.
He quit school in his eighth grade,
because there was a need.
His father had just died,
there were hungry mouths to feed.
Can anyone these days imagine
the immensity of that endeavor?
Still a kid, in northern Michigan,
preparing a family for winter weather?
Planting and harvesting a garden
to put food on the table?
Picking up an extra buck or two
in any way he was able?
I don’t remember him ever talking
about those early times,
but I know they were much more difficult
than any days of mine.
He lived his whole life
with a 8th grade education.
Still, I remember how proud he was
when I made it through graduation.
Dad was in his fifty’s
when I reached that milestone,
but he couldn’t have been any prouder,
if the diploma had been his own.
Sometimes I was embarrassed,
that my dad got drunk so often,
but after all that he went through,
never did he soften.
After a long hard week,,,
on payday he’d break loose.
I’m convinced that form of release
is preferential to a noose.
Not to say he ever thought that way,
but certainly he had reason,
considering what he’d gone through
during one deer hunting season.
A man was shot and killed
they were trying to place the blame.
If he’d have just turned and walked away,
wouldn’t it have all come out the same?
That’s not the way Dad was wired,
doing right was always his lesson.
Several nights they grilled him hard,
trying to obtain a confession.
From the second floor I listened,
peaking through the chimney hole.
Trying to make sense of it,
wishing they’d hurry up and go.
He stood up to the test
never did he give in,
stood before the justice,
to what we finally called a win.
In later years we had differences,
I’m not sure he was always right,
but never was there a time
I was willing to challenge his might.
My brother Vern, did that once
though I don’t think it made him proud.
He popped Dad in the nose one time
when he came home really plowed.
I don’t remember the reason,
can’t recall the circumstances,
I know his back was to the wall
and he’d given him several chances.
Dad was always a real hard worker
I don’t think he ever took time off.
He passed on that work ethic,
no matter how bad the cough.
I and all my brothers
and yes, my sisters too,
have always been conscientious
in all the things we do.
Those were lessons learned
from following the lead of Dad.
I think my boy’s have learned them too
and I’m really so very glad.
He was his family’s oldest son,
This would have been his 100th year
Though he’s been gone for 35 years,
sometimes his spirit still feels near.
cophright 2010 Richard Lee King