Sunday, June 19, 2011

Silent Man

"We celebrate Father’s Day. The sacred word “father” implies “mother.” ...These words are so basic that they’re the first ones a baby says; so foundational that they’re among the first words of the Creator recorded in the Bible." ~Archbishop Dolan

The Silent Man

I remember his wrinkled hands,
fingertips calloused from glucose testing,
nails yellowed with age,
hint of dirt beneath them from working in the garden.

Forty-three years old the day I was born
an old man, and yet a new father
ninth time around for him, an expert father by now.

I suppose he expected me to be like all the rest,
wild and naughty;
and I was-
I made sure to cause him to lose his hair,
lose his sleep, possibly lose some sanity, too.

Like all my siblings before me
he raised me the same-
quietly, with few words.

A pat on the head each morning
while eating my lumpy oatmeal
was the love he gave me
on his way to work;
"bye now" and he was gone-

-until he was too sick to work in the factory,
too sick to drive a cab,
too sick to spend much time outside of the hospital.

Months passed in diabetic comas
my quiet father, now silent;
wild daughter, now invisible;
shaken by the threat that dad won't live long.

Returning home with a brain damaged by his illness
his tolerance worn thin,
wild daughter was now "damn kid!"
and those hands came at me with swats
instead of pats.

The threat of near-death that hung over our heads
never arrived and he lived to be eighty-three.
In his old age, I silently sat with him;
watched those weathered hands
finger the rosary, often losing track of his place
as he would doze off to sleep.

Finally the day came when those hands could do no more-
no more finger pokes for glucose tests,
no more gardening,
no more cooking oatmeal,
no more love pats,
no more swats,
no more fingering the rosary.

I held his worn and wrinkled hand,
feeling the bones beneath the dry skin
noticed him squeeze my hand as I whispered
"I love you, Dad."

I watched as the silent man
whose hands were now silent, too,
held a rosary without praying,
as the lid was the closed
and the silent man was no more.

(A re-post from February 2010)

~Missing my dad who passed from this life five years ago and noticing how sometimes, my Heavenly Father can be as silent as my earthly father had been. Treasure your father if he is still with you! Honor him with prayer if he is not! Happy Father's Day to all dads! For a brilliant and flawless reflection on Fatherhood and the Trinity, please visit Dr. Lilles at Beginning to Pray.


  1. This poem is hauntingly beautiful, Anne. I was hard pressed to keep from crying when I read this.
    One of the things I love about this poem is how much the humanity of your father shines through here. You didn't attempt to trivialize this aspect of his nature (or your own) but rather showed it in conjunction with his spiritual side. Very powerful poem.

  2. As a diabetic and a dad and someone whose had to entrust his own father to God, thank you for this beautiful poem and for posting the link to my reflection. What a great gift you were to your Dad!

  3. Very emotional poem, Anne.

    And thank you for the reminder to cherish those that are still with us.

    God Bless you ... and your Father's spirit.

  4. Anne, I wrote you a comment last night that was lost through a mistake. I was also moved by this poem and can'g get over the gift you have to express your heart in poetry. Not sure if you are writing for others that are having some sort of dark night or you are there yourself. Either way i thought you might enjoy Fernando Ortega's song Lord of Eternity. You can Google the lyrics, and maybe download mp3 if you like it. There was only a cover of it on YouTube and it was down a bit from the original. I know you know your heavenly Father, the whole Glorious Holy Trinity are right there with you, even when the gift of sensing God's presence is withdrawn at times. Love to you, and may your Tender hearted Heavenly Father bless you!