I’m Gonna Tell You About My Daddy

To this day, I love my dad.
He has always been
a serious man,
a practical man,
a hard-working man,

never understanding
my excursions into
bizarre forms of art,
what I call “radical
self-expression” with
a slightly wry downcast smile.

My dad never needed
art to express himself.
He has never been one
to mince his words,
to tame his thoughts,
to tone the truth down
to a manageable volume.

He builds furniture,
he fixes cars and rewires
electric motors
for my uncle slowing being
taken by cancer (my family’s curse).
He recently built a deck
and a front porch with a roof
onto the double-wide trailer
he and my mother live in,
the same one in which I grew up.

When I call him or visit
(not nearly as often as I should)
he always asks several times
if I need anything before the
call or visit is over.

He never asks anything of me.

He is fifty-seven years old
with a body worn by years
of work and worry
and still, I would depend on him
before anyone.

He told me once he felt like
he had failed me because
he couldn’t give me everything I wanted.

I told him he gave me everything
because there was never a day
he didn’t work to provide for me,
for all of our family,
there was never a day he failed to tell
me he loved me or hug me
or kiss me goodnight
or make sure I was safe when
I went out or make sure I had a car
that could get me to work.

What more could he
have ever given me?

My dad showed me more
than what it means to be a man,

he showed me what it means
to be a decent human being,
regardless of circumstance.

When people tell me
I’m just like my dad,
I never take it as an insult.

There’s no higher
compliment I could ever receive.

My dad never needed art
to express himself.

My dad is an artist.
And his life is his masterpiece.

I’m still working on mine.

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