Monday, June 15, 2009

The letter and the poem

Imagine my surprise today when I walked into my office, opened the envelope on top of my in-box, and spotted my dad's unmistakable writing on the letter inside. He's been dead for nearly 6 years. How could I be getting a letter from him six years after we buried him?

It turns out the editor of The Messenger (a publication of the church denomination I grew up with), who has known my dad for alot of years, thought I might appreciate the letter dad had sent him 9 years ago. He couldn't have been more right.

In his later life, my dad became something of a writer (I come by it honestly, as do other members of my family) and had a few articles and letters to the editor published. He didn't write alot, but what he did write carried alot of weight. He was a thinking man. I remember many times when he'd come in from long hours on the fields or in the barn, he'd sit down at the kitchen table, and he'd ask a deep and thoughtful question that he had been pondering all day. Sometimes (all too seldom, if you ask me), those thoughts would make their way onto paper.

For many years, Dad had had a particular fascination with sheep. His interest stemmed from years of studying the many references to sheep in the Bible. (Look for them sometime - there are lots of them.) He wanted to know what it was really like to be a sheep following his shepherd. The letter I received today was the basis of an article about why he'd chosen to own sheep on the farm.

I'm not sure why the letter showed up today, but I think there's probably a reason. I've re-read the letter a few times and will continue to read it. Dad was a man of few words - when he spoke, you knew it was important to listen. Today, for some reason, I think I'm meant to listen.

This post started out being just about my dad, but now I need to write about my daughter too. As I was writing this, Julie walked up with a poem she'd just written. When I read it, I got a little teary eyed thinking about how proud Dad would have been of his thinking granddaughter. With her permission, here's her poem:

I lie awake and wonder
What is there I cannot see?
I lay awake and ponder
This lack of knowledge scaring me.

I have not felt the touch
Of searing pain
Or seen the stars
like falling rain

I never can be quite sure
Even of the things I know
Should I stop and smell the roses
Or is it time to go?

I have not felt true horror
I know perhaps I will
I lay awake and wonder
My head with thoughts I fill

We've just finished decorating Julie's room, and the first picture she's hanging up is one of her on a horse that her Grandpa is leading around the pasture.


Shannon said...

What a beautiful sharing of stories — of you, your dad, your daughter and the connection that threads through you all beyond time and space in love.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that must have been some shock to open a letter and see his handwriting - I can imagine feelings of both joy and sorrow at the same time.

I still love to see my mom's beautiful handwriting even with her poor spelling... (I didn't inherit either). I still have something she wrote to me as well as 1 page of a letter my grandfather wrote me when I was little - two of my greatest treasures. I'm sure this letter will be one of yours.


Judy said...

Oh, wow.

You come from a long line of wonderful people, and that line continues on...

Karmyn R said...

I love your daughter's poem - it has the feel of true innocence, but embedded with deep wisdom for someone her age (most kids aren't thinking that far ahead).

What a gift to have gotten your dad's letter.

I've been reading a book about America's Founding Mothers. Many of their letters and journals have been lost over time (unlike the founding fathers who have tons of writings saved). But, those women's writings that were recovered have been remarkable. No one writes letters anymore - it is an artform lost.

Pamela said...

as a parent we would protect them from sorrow and horror

hug her for me.