Tuesday, July 31, 2018

His Simple and Wise Voice

Their dad moved to Montana
the weekend before
Father’s Day.

The two teenagers
acted like it was no big deal
but I knew the truth.

My Little Blonde Talking Monkey
reacted with her expected
shower of tears
and guilty anxiety.

She tells me
“Dad deserves to be happy too”
as I rock her crying heaving

I suggested they each
pick out a Father’s Day
card for him
so he wouldn’t be forgotten
in Montana

(the reason he left:
“there was
nothing for him
in California”

uncomfortably long pause

“except you kids”).

The teenagers
were noncommittal
as they selected their
cards and then went about
dreaming of cell phones
and new clothes.

Sarah couldn’t decide
on a card so
I helped her
read the sentiments:

“Dad, you’ve helped me 
in so many ways…”

"I’ll never be able to thank you
for all that you’ve given me…”

each card flowing
with sentiment so undeserved

“Dad, you’re my best friend.”

I could tell Sarah
was getting bored by the search
but I wasn’t.

I was getting angry.

As I read each card
I kept thinking
Why isn’t my Pop here?

He deserves to be here
and I want to thank him
and I want to hear his laughter again
his simple and wise voice,

but each card tugged
and sometimes ripped
at my heart,

the injustice of it all
was taunting me:

here I am
eating my heart out
picking out Father’s Day cards
for an emotionally deadbeat dad
and I’ll have to
pay for the card too.

Why am I doing this?

Then I heard his voice:
“because you know
it’s the right thing to do, mijo.

That’s what I’d do.”

He was right.

So we left Target
and went home
and mailed off the cards.

Thanks, Pop,
I sure do miss your voice.

[Posted for Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, written in 2007.  Legally, the children in this story were my stepchildren.  Emotionally, they're my children.]


  1. I am so thankful they have you, kiddo. The one who stayed.

  2. Yes, I miss my Dad, too. It is said, you don't know until it is lost...wonder why we don't get it? In every moment, with everyone.

  3. There is nothing for me here... what a devastating thing to say, but you did your best. Well done

  4. Anonymous2:50 PM

    Wow, this hits hard. Unfortunately it is very relatable.

  5. This is heartwrenching.

  6. Mosk, being a parent doesn't begin or ends with being the DNA donour. Rather, the emotional capital that you have invested over the years, to the children. Doing the little things that make life special, to the children and you. I don't care that these children came into your life by marriage, you're their dad.

  7. You just made me cry in the middle of work!! I love how this is about having a wise and gentle father and the heartbreak of being part of the life for someone who is not so fortunate. The whole piece is simply perfect, and I think all parents should read it!!! (I too understand how stepchildren can emotionally be ours) <3

  8. This is so touching...may healing find it's way!!

  9. Same deal, except it's my mother, who's been gone for almost a quarter century now. Fortunately, I was able to finally forget my father's voice ages ago.

  10. Sigh this is so touching!

  11. This is so good --- so, so good. Sarah is very lucky to have you. Hang in there. The reward is coming, I'm sure.

  12. Oh, this really hit me. Gah! Love your ability to bring moments like this to the page. Wow.