(This is a re-post from my Facebook page.)
Here is a cold reading of my newest free verse poem on the death of my dad (“Unsung Heroes: Felipe”). I wrote it days after my dad’s passing to give out at his wake to people who largely did not know him as most of the central people in his life had passed on, moved away or were otherwise unable to attend due to health issues or other circumstances. I did not want his funeral arrangements to be publicized to my university community at large and only the members of my department were actually notified of his passing. A small group of my dearest friends and family and many of my colleagues attended, but most did not know him. I needed to paint a picture of a deeply honorable, honest man whose passing may have gone largely unnoticed, a mere ripple on a very large pond, but for a handful of people like me for whom it was a tidal wave. It is a poor tribute from a grateful son lucky beyond words to have had him in his life but unable to pay him appropriate homage. He mattered. The world is poorer for his passing in ways no one who did not know him well can ever fully understand. You can access the YouTube file here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMhHLYK92Js
Because I post in a wide range of venues, I apologize if this (like many of my other posts) is repetitive due to prior automatic postings from one or more of my various blogs. I do not spend much time on Facebook and much that is posted on my timeline here comes from other places. But In re-reading some of my old poems over the last week (I’m in that sort of mood, I guess) I wanted to post this one. I wish I were a better writer. I wish I were a better man. I wish I could have been the son he deserved. The fault and shame are mine. No tears can change that. But I loved him with all my heart and he certainly knew that and reciprocated in kind. I hope that is something.
The photo is one I had to make due with when he passed as I was on Long island without access to more than a dozen or so photos. The album Alice lovingly created for me from what we had was meager, and that is one reason I wanted to give some additional verbal snapshots of the man. It was also therapy for me as the poem was written in one sitting with very little editing. The photo was scanned and photoshopped as best I could under time pressure from a photo of my dad, mom and me on my graduation from law school. That is the way I prefer to remember him–healthy, relatively young (younger than I am now), and the man who shaped the man I am today on a happy day for him, my mom and me.