The couple, lovely.
Brown-hued he adorned as army’s finest;
soon to go to war at his country’s request.
And she, fair of face,
by grace, pledged to wait ‘til, she pray, he, safe, come again.
Yet whilst the camera said, “Smile”
each, rather, gazed back straight-forward
with hopeful eye,
with countenance steady, faithful;
and, unseen, with hands held close and hearts nearer still
imagining alway, but entertaining ne’er the thought: What if?
With all their questions
I wonder whether they imagined me;
and when I came, did they see
in my face their reflections?
And did they imagine what…who I would be?
Ev’ry day, I look and, in them, I see
Ev’ry day, I look and, the memory depending,
sometimes I laugh,
more times, I cry,
mostly though, now,
with wounds bandaged by time’s passing,
6 thoughts on “A Lasting Reflection”
Amen for smiling Paul!! What a lovely poem honoring your parents!! How proud they must have been when you were ordained! I’m happy that you smile when you look at your parents now because you are an amazing legacy to /from them. All of the hard work you’ve done in your heart and soul on your relationship with your parents have made you the person you are today. And you’re a pretty great person indeed.
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Loretta, love you back. And, once again, thanks for your encouragement. My relationship with my folks has been…and is quite the journey. And, yes, I do see myself as their legacy, on which I continue to build and to add day by day as well as perceiving myself (and, as I’m wont to say, my self, my individual being) as my inheritance from them.
As for their pride in my ordination, that, as in all things with them, was a long, at times, arduous story involving their incredulity and, eventually, their acceptance. ‘Twas not an easy road for any of the three of us. Indeed, as I reflect in this instant moment, very little was easy among us.
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I see you in both their faces, Paul, but you look SO much like your mother, at least as she looks in this picture. I’m so glad that you mostly smile now when you look at their faces. The tears and the laughter have their places and do their work in us as well. This is a poem to which I can relate so strongly, as I too still am learning how to comprehend what flawed parents gave to their daughter, who is equally flawed in her own right, whether the gift came in the form of the many wonderful things they bequeathed or in the form of the need to overcome their many damaging legacies as well. Both kinds, I aver, were gifts I needed to shape my understanding of myself and my own heart. In the end, I know that my parents, most likely like yours, were human beings trying to get through life in a very troubled time in a troubled place, after having traversed complex upbringings themselves. They had dreams that died and hopes that were dashed, and they went on from those disappointments in the only ways they knew to do, I think. The only way I know your parents is by knowing you, Paul, and in my eyes, they did the world a great kindness by producing you and raising you so that you could become the man you are today, whose honesty and sincere desire to be a good and valuable human being, so far as I can tell, know no bounds.
My dearest Karen, your kindness to me overwhelms me in the most poignant and wondrous of ways. Thank you.
Your words call, cause me to reflect that it is one of life’s inexorabilities that we are products of our parents in all things and fashions, the good and the not so good. For all of us, there is much we received and much we did not receive that we desired, and much we received and much we did not receive that we did not desire. Our life’s labor always summons (demands of) us to make sense of it for ourselves. Moreover, we repeat, in our own ways, the cycles of goodness and not-so-goodness with our children and all (including ourselves) we meet in this life. As we go forth, let us pray that we learn and practice self-lovingkindness that we be not too hard on ourselves and, thus, burden ourselves unnecessarily with lament over all we cannot control.
Amen to all you said, Paul. The one lament I do have is that it takes so long for us to figure out the invaluable lessons you describe. As a friend said just yesterday, “But aren’t you glad you stuck around long enough to learn it!” I’m glad we both stuck around, and I hope we both continue to for quite some time yet. I think the world still has need of us!
Love you too!
Karen, your comment reminds me of a kindly, sage word a therapist once (well, truth to tell, she had to say it more than once) to me: “Paul, you know for yourself what you know for yourself when you know it for yourself. Not sooner.” So, yes, per your friend’s kindly, sage word, I’m glad you and I stuck around long enough to learn what we’ve learned. And, per your kindly, sage word, I pray that, yes, the world still has need of us. Love, Paul