Writers on the Heart
He was ninety-two. Frail, shriveled to under five feet, yet wiry, eyes sparkling with the fire that had been there since he was a youngster.
Father had taught is to pray in the evening and after our meals. He dressed up as Santa Claus for Christmas. He made us recite poems before gifts were handed out. He told us to wash behind our ears and comb our hair in a neat way.
Mother was sick and not able to guide us very much. So father, who liked to give orders, made sure his three children learned to become proper citizens. He also taught us multiplication and would pull our ears if we forgot what seven times eight was. That seemed to be the hardest of the numbers to remember.
He had taken us through World War II and settled us all in our new home, the land of the free, the home of the brave. He never looked back and did not even want to go back when the country of our birth became free again.
But age comes to us all. He and mother retired to Florida where she had regained much of her health except for the hearing. She loved to garden and learned all about tropical gardening even though all she had only had gardens in a very cold climate in her younger days.
She passed away at 83 and left behind a beautiful acre full of citrus, mango trees, flowers, vegetables, and berries of all kinds. It was a showplace of a property. Father survived her another ten years - for they were the same age, father being four months older.
Mother had cultivated the ground and plants so well that they survived years after she no longer was there to care for them. Father would walk around the property and did make sure the grass was cut. That was about the extent of his yard care.
One day on my regular visits to him from a city about two hundred miles away, I told him about the poetry and writers group we had formed with some of my literary friends. His old eyes lit up with a special spark at this mention.
Then I showed him a little journal we would print weekly with some of our poems and short stories. Again, his enthusiasm was hard to ignore. He got excited and wanted to participate.
I remembered how he had insisted we recite a poem when we were little kids during Christmas time. Now I understood that he had always loved poetry.
It did not take him long. The poem flowed from his shaky and gnarled hand. The words were not easy to read, but I understood. This is what he wrote:
"Now is the time
to write, paint and sing
do your big and little thing
for there is a lot of time to rest
under the tombstone
and the wooden crest."
We printed it in our journal. Our group was called "Writers in the Sand" for we lived near the beach. Father's words were not written in the sand, but rather on my heart. I think they were written on his heart, too.