He was a cocky kid,
Youngest of three brothers,
With a sister older by twelve years
Thrown in for good measure.
And his mother was forty-four.
The shame of it. It was 1920.
He was not a scholar.
He loved hockey, when it was still
A little man’s game.
He weighed one hundred twenty pounds
with a brick in each hand.
He loved music, Dixieland, Drums,
And so loving it, he lived it,
And did the gin-joints
Before he was old enough to drink.
Before he was old enough to die.
He married his girl on Christmas Eve,
Just after Pearl Harbor.
He was gone soon after.
For over five years.
He was a nose gunner in a B-24.
There were rules. And he obeyed.
Then the war was over,
they all came home.
To distant wives.
To grown-up families.
To children they had never seen.
And so this ordinary kid just followed the rules.
He took care of his family
In the only ways he knew how.
He went away to school for another
Three years, and he came back
A Registered Male Nurse.
But he worked hard, and paid attention.
And he soon fell in with the government,
And his life changed.
He was making more money.
Than his father ever had,
And the old man was embarrassed.
His son. A nurse.
And a musician.
But he always did the right thing.
Even if it didn’t seem so at the time,
And he took care of his wife
and his daughter,
And was largely taken for granted
By the wife who wanted cocktail parties
And when she died, in the fiftieth year
Of their union, and on his birthday,
He was inconsolable. He was bereft.
He went away, to England, where
He had always wanted to go.
He realized he was, finally, free.
And he liked it.
And he began to live his life.
And one day soon he will leave me.
I will truly be an orphan.
Or a grown-up.