SIX DAYS A WEEK HE WORKED, my dad,
and sometimes seven,
if he could get the hours.
What with a wife and five children,
plus a mother-in-law
who showed up on the doorstep one day,
bag and baggage,
to hold us together.
But he somehow found time each summer
to put in a few Jersey tomatoes,
watch over a hydrangea he cared for like a little child
and tend his roses.
HE CUT BACK TO 5 DAYS
and occasional Saturday mornings
when I was ten,
“to let the younger men
just starting families
have the hours,” he said.
But his own dad had died just that spring
and he needed to make more frequent runs
to see his mother –
to pay her bills,
do her grocery shopping
and push the mower around her postage-stamp backyard.
He was a hard worker, but he’d slow down
to point out hollyhocks wherever he spied them, saying,
“Aren’t they something, standing so straight and tall?
I’d like to try those someday.”
I don’t recall whether he ever did.
But every place Wally and I have lived
we’ve put in at least one hollyhock,
a reminder of Daddy and to stand up straight,
no matter what the other flowers are doing
and despite storms, which are part of life.
* * *
Just more of my Summer 2016 Challenge.