Himself at 99

Poetry 101 Rehab Challenge
hosted by Andy Townend
Prompt: “Father

father, sitting on the backyard deck


“Himself at (almost) 99”

When last seen, barely hanging
onto life, old enough to die,
angry, and yes, he said, too
tired to move from off his bed.

Now again espied, he’s spent
two hours raking out a rock
garden and the two-lot yard,
filling 30 bags with leaves and
started hauling them away.

What wonders come from too much
time that’s spent in idleness,
staring at the ceiling and
muttering about the aches
that he now cheerfully ignores.

Copyright © 2015-10-24, by his
eldest daughter (me). This poem
was included earlier in a post
on one of my other blogs.


I suppose that I should have written a new poem for this challenge, but I’d just written a one about Father. One of my mother’s mass mailings to myself and my siblings on October 23 included a humorous observation regarding my father and his propensity for doing the yard work himself, rather than hiring it out to ‘those young kids’ who don’t know how to do things right. My mother suggested that she would throw out the lawnmower, over the winter, so he would quit mowing the two-lot property before the high-school boy who’s hired to do the work can get to it. We were home last week, stopping by before our dental check-ups. He did a good job on yard clean-up, as always, and without anyone’s help.

Our family home, in a village half an hour’s drive east from here, is on a double lot, a former horse pasture, that my parents bought (with Mother’s severance pay from the Navy after World War II). The land was surrounded and populated by huge cottonwood trees. Father and his friends (who worked construction) built the house from Mother’s blueprints. She designed the house as she wished to be, with floor to ceiling windows in the kitchen and living room, overlooking the huge back yard. The bedrooms were in front. When we were young, all of us got out into the yard every autumn to rake up leaves that threatened to bury the ground a foot deep. It was not an annual, one-time event.

My father got a kick out of the poem. I suspect that he had Mother print a copy to show to his coffee buddies downtown. I imagine that when we get ice and snow, around here, he will have to start taking the car downtown, rather than walking. His ninety-ninth birthday is the middle of December.

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