Last night Judith and I co-hosted a poetry party
And for my contribution,
I read W.S. Merwin’s poem “Yesterday.”
I don’t know if you know that one.
It’s in part about fathers and sons
And taking the time to be together
When you can
Because one day
You won’t have
As I was reading the poem aloud in the group
I was overcome with emotion.
The tears came unbidden.
I had to pause
and gather myself.
I spend a lot of time with other people.
Caring for other people.
But not much with you. Or with Mom for that matter.
The phone calls, the once or twice a year
Visits to see you have to suffice
I guess it occurred to me for the first time
That we won’t always have the time.
Oh, you’re only 70,
Which somehow used to seem old to me
And probably to you
But it doesn’t so much anymore.
We’ve got many more years left to share
Most likely, of course.
But for today
Which is the day we’re living now
The only day we’re promised
Let me just tell you
That I’m thankful to be your son.
It’s not a present, and it’s not my presence,
But it’s as present as I can be right now.
So thank you.
Thanks for trips to ballparks and stadiums
And for passing on your loyalty to sports teams
A loyalty which binds you and I together through shared joy and sorrow.
Thanks for your love of music, your commitment to learning,
for sharing the passion of your political convictions,
And the ways you’ve come to express your pride in who I’ve become.
More than that
Thanks for living out what it means
To really trust in a Higher Power.
Thanks for living One Day At a Time.
Thanks for being a living example
Not just of “what not to do”
(remember the refrigerator magnet that said
“It may be my whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others”? )
But of what to do:
Including helping fellow travelers on the road of life
And committing to spiritual growth yourself.
I used you as a sermon illustration:
Living proof of the existence of God.
Your thirty years of sobriety
Your fifty years of marriage to Mom
Your seventy years of life
Are not just proof that God exists.
Or that God cares.
They are proof that
Sometimes people say yes
To life and love and loyalty.
So for now, let me just take the time to say