Jean Newell, Associate Pastor, Sun Lakes United Methodist Church
I was raised in a military family — Air Force, to be precise. Dad was an officer, so he was used to telling people what to do and that included my brother, sister and me. Dad expected us to do our best no matter what we were doing. He set high standards and didn’t settle for second best. Scripture says to honor your father and mother, but growing up, I remember butting heads with my dad. It wasn’t until my own children were growing up that I began to understand Dad as an individual!
June 1980, he underwent open heart surgery. Three weeks after that, he passed away. A year later, I dreamed about Dad – finally realizing I’d worked so hard to “be adult” about his passing that I hadn’t really grieved his death.
That’s when I wrote this poem about him. It took me a full week to write the poem because I would write a line or two and then cry; write and cry. It was during that incredible, cleansing, eye-opening week that I discovered I really did love and honor my opinionated, stubborn, bull-headed father!
It is in Dad’s honor that I share his poem with you. I hope and pray, if you know someone like my dad, a father or an uncle or a grandfather or a mentor, that when you are able and have an opportunity, you’ll honor him by telling him how much he means to you.
Dad, can you hear me?
We never talked much before;
I never really knew what to say.
It seemed we usually differed
unless I agreed with you,
and I couldn’t always do that.
So, to avoid the look of disappointment in your eyes
or the hot flash of unspoken words soon regretted,
I tried to nod my head,
smile a noncommittal smile,
and sit grudgingly quiet.
Then came last July…
and after watching you fight –
fight the odds you knew were against you,
I realized that for all your bark,
your bluster, your blarney,
you possessed a quiet courage
that few people have
and still fewer know of and understand.
I respect you for that.
I could tell you so.