Larry Ellis wrote this the other day and it struck a chord with me. Maybe it’s the poignancy. Maybe the familiarity of place, of people, of family. He said I could share it with you, so here it is.
Walking With My Father
As usual, he has the television up loud
And we watch our bottom-dwelling team
Go quietly in the third inning
“It’s nice out,” I tell him. “Alright,” he says
The doorway, the step down to the porch
The step down to the walk
Are all obstacles now
Me holding the storm door open
He pushing his walker over the threshold
For a moment he is without support
But he stands
It is early evening and cool
And we step slowly along the driveway
The smooth concrete that he himself poured and finished
Thirty years ago
And then on to the blacktop road
Shuffling. The walker sticking in every crack and hole
Such effort. I wonder is there some better way
And yet we both know that every step is Grace
Every moment we have is Grace
A neighbor sees us and comes alongside
With encouragement and news
We reach the end of his road.
“You want to keep going?” I ask.
He nods. “Let’s go on.”
And we turn onto the sidewalk
As the sky turns from Robin’s egg to cobalt blue
“You remember the first time we fished Anthony Creek?”
“I’m not sure I remember the first one.
“Did we catch fish?”
“Yeah. A whole bagful. We caught fish we didn’t even know
What they were.”
“I do remember that. Andre took us in the truck
And we had to scoot down the mountainside.”
We go on and I wonder how far is too far
I tell him that we’ve gone farther than ever
Farther than ever since he got sick
But he wants to go on
“We’ll go on up to that streetlight up there
“Then we’ll turn around
“That be enough for you?”
On the way back we stop
And he rests
“Who lives in that house right there?”
“I don’t know who lives there now,” I say
“But when we were growing up
That was the church parsonage.
That’s where Dr. Weaver lived.”
“He was one of a kind,” Dad says.
As we reach home again
I point to a sprinkle of stars above the trees
Pure points of light from fires
Eight-thousand years old
“Look there, how beautiful.
There’s nothing like it.”
Copyright 2016, Larry Ellis