“Hold on,” she said, “I’ll just run out and get him.
The weather here’s so good, he took the chance
To do a bit of weeding.”
So I saw him
Down on his hands and knees beside the leek rig,
Touching, inspecting, separating one
Stalk from the other, gently pulling up
Everything not tapered, frail and leafless,
Pleased to feel each little weed-root break,
But rueful also . . .
Then found myself listening to
The amplified grave ticking of hall clocks
Where the phone lay unattended in a calm
Of mirror glass and sunstruck pendulums . . .
And found myself then thinking: if it were nowadays,
This is how Death would summon
My father was a complex man. I understand better now where my own complicated nature comes from.
As inscrutable as he could be, there were things I absolutely understood about him:
he was a man of action
– he never just sat, never took a nap, never wasted a day of his life without accomplishing something tangible.
he was a man of the soil
– he plowed and harrowed and sowed and fertilized and weeded and harvested
he was a man of inventiveness
– he figured out a better way, he transformed tools and buildings, he started from scratch and built the impossible
he didn’t explain himself
– and never felt the need to.
Time keeps ticking on without him here, now 26 years since he took his last breath as the clock pendulum swung in his bedroom. He was taken too young for all the projects he still had in mind.
He handed off a few to me.
Some I have done.
Some still wait, I’m not sure why.
My regret is not understanding how much he needed to hear how loved he was. He seemed fine without it being said.
But he wasn’t.
I wish I had said it when I had the chance.