Posted: June 16, 2019
For any of you who have been paying attention, I am not a father. And my dad and granddads are all passed.
So what I am writing about today is Jim – well not Jim exactly but his dad.
Jim’s dad was a bit of a classic of his era. He did woodworking and built their cottage and could fix the car and the only thing he could cook was on a barbeque. You know – that kind of dad. He was a dependable sort of guy who people could rely on to do be supportive when needed and speak his mind when that was needed. He was a lithographer by trade and ran a bunch of printing plants across Canada for the Queens Printer in Canada (the Federal Government printing office).
He was not a young guy when Jim was born ( I think he was about 35 or older) and perhaps because of that or his own upbringing that saw him leave home at sixteen, or having a first child (Jim’s sister) nine years earlier who was more conventional, he and Jims mom did not quite know what to make of Jim. This was a wild monkey, to say the least, and neither of Jim’s parents had any idea how to manage him.
The good news is that they all survived Jims years in public school (if you have not read my first post you might want to now as it explains some of Jim’s behavior in public school) and against all odds his years in high school as well. Today ADHD and a variety of other mental health descriptors would be applied but at the time the kindest label was the one I used earlier – wild monkey.
Jim had a life-changing event when we were traveling in Europe in 1973 with our other buddy Jim (another Jim, yah that’s the only name they gave out in 1954) which really made him straighten out, or at least be more focused. He scooted back to Canada at the end of the summer after high school, slid into University and there was no looking back. All his energy was now channeled into something. He would work all night as a security guard then go to school in the day and catch a bit of sleep in the evening. That’s how he lived through first year and went from a failing student in high school to a straight-A student who was in the top of his class for most of his courses in first-year university.
It was quite a scary transformation and one that his parents had given up on seeing happen.
The really good news is that his parents went on to live into their eighties and from that time in 1973 until they passed Jim had a really good relationship with them but has always been haunted by how bad a kid he had been until then.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, its because today, Fathers Day, while his kids, Jade and Jason were preparing him an amazing meal, Jim sat down at the computer and banged out this poem about his dad and just sent it to me. It could use some edits and Jim is not the strongest poet but damn it’s pretty straight up.
A SHORT POEM ON FATHERS DAY
I don’t know all the things
I learned from my dad.
But when doing some carpentry
Was reminded of his approach to objects.
Things exist for a reason
And until they have fulfilled
That reason to exist
Are somewhat incomplete.
When a nail would be bent,
We would find a hard surface to hold it on
And pound it with a hammer until straight.
The nail could now fulfill its destiny.
To find a mouth,
And both ends used,
To be complete.
A transit ticket
To be dropped
In its box.
A bottle of rye should not
Be left half consumed
Biding its time
To complete its task.
I was a bit of a mess then,
Much more than incomplete,
But he didn’t
Give up on me.
You can’t analyze a tall man,
In a short poem.
Suffice it to say,
He straightened bent nails.
P.S. from Django: Because I was hustling to get this posted I have not tracked down a picture of Jims Dad or Jim with his kids but I will post those images here when I get them. Also as always, feel free to reproduce the poem but please attribute it to this website.