When my Dad died I wanted to stand up and say something about him at the funeral. Unfortunately I knew only too well that I wouldn’t be able to get through such a speech without dissolving into a blubbering wreck and spoiling it for everybody. In the end I wrote a short poem that tried to convey what he meant to me and what he would be leaving behind once his physical presence had gone. I still couldn’t read it out and had to give it to the priest to read on my behalf. I was thinking about him this morning and for some reason, sixteen years on I feel like sharing it, and him, again. This is what I wrote.
Hey Dad, me bike isn’t working,
I can’t get it into third gear,
“Well go and fetch me tools lad,
And bring your bike over here”.
I’d pedal away with me mates,
Having carefully watched what he’d done,
Another small part of his knowledge
Passed quietly from father to son.
All through our childhood, the lessons went on,
Showing us just what to do,
From mending a bike, to making a kite,
With scissors and paper and glue.
As I grew older, he taught me much more,
The subjects were never the same,
Now it was woodwork, and how to use tools,
A hammer, a chisel, a plane.
And so I left home, with skills of my own,
To get me through every day life,
The seasons came round, and I settled down,
With two boys and a wonderful wife.
I thought Dad had finished, the lessons all done,
So it came as a little surprise,
To find when I met with a problem,
He was there in my head to advise.
The lessons were different, not practical things,
Like tipping a new snooker cue,
But patience and wisdom, honesty, truth,
And knowing the right thing to do.
To love and to care, to listen and share,
To know when to guide, when to steer,
These are the things that you teach me now Dad,
And it’s wonderful having you near.
So keep looking on Dad, as I try to do right,
And when you think that I’m making a mess,
Say, “Excuse me son, would you like some advice?”,
And I promise I’ll always say yes.