Today would have been my father’s 93rd birthday, but recently he went to be with the Lord. In the days following his death, I wrote this poem. I would write a little, then cry a little, and then write some more. It’s not formal, but it is from the heart! I’m posting it today, on his birthday, to honor him. I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful Dad.
Cleve was born in Dallas, a Texan through and through;
An only child, his cousins were like the brothers he never knew.
My Dad grew up in Comanche, in the middle of the state;
Where flat fields stretch to meet the sky, and things aren’t good but great.
Childhood in that small town was everything that a boy could wish;
After school they’d go hunting or out in the lake to fish.
His Grandfather was a homesteader upon the western plain;
Who had learned to grow fruits and vines in a land with little rain.
His Dad taught him fishing skills, how to cast and row;
But the secret to make the fish bite was to hold your mouth just so.
We all loved his story of frog gigging at night out on the lake;
They rowed away like crazy to escape from poisonous snakes,
Then there was the time he jumped a fence to get away from an angry bull;
When he looked back at the height of the fence, he knew it was a miracle.
In Texas everyone plays football, if you’re not big you better be fast;
He was the county ping pong champ, (a talent that he proved can last).
For my father lived to 92, and I think maybe I know why
He taught me you can do anything, if only you just try.
Cleve went off to college the summer he was seventeen;
Then his country called him to duty, and he saw things he’d never seen.
Like millions of boys who were drafted, he was put onto a train;
He chose the Navy because he wanted to be on a boat, not a tank or plane.
They offered to make him a rear gunner, but instead he followed his heart;
He told them “I had rather put people together than to tear them apart.”
Into battle in Japan, they were looking for men to go;
When they drew the line on the list, his name was just below.
He served as a Corpsman and later a Pharmacists Mate;
When the bomb was dropped, it ended the war, and so it saved his fate.
Though my father lived to 92, please forgive me if I grieve;
He taught me you can do anything, if you only just believe.
At University of Texas, microbiology was his chosen field;
He never dreamed the opportunities that this decision would yield.
A professor recommended him for a job in Washington DC;
To do research in a lab on canning and food technology.
When he wrote home from the Capital, he said everything was “swell”;
Planned to stay for a year or so, but that all changed when into love he fell.
My Father was a scientist with a sharp and inquiring mind;
With over 40 technical publications that you can read online.
When you pour ketchup from a plastic bottle instead of using glass;
It was my Dad’s research that made that advancement come to pass.
His honesty and integrity was admired through 38 years at his work;
He was a man who was loyal, there was never a task he would shirk.
My father lived to 92. Please understand why I miss him so;
He taught me to be faithful, to the tasks that I am given, in whatever places that I go.
He was the kind of father, who played with me on the floor;
He taught me silly songs like “whose that knocking on the door?”
I learned that Old Dan Tucker was a fine old man;
When I wanted a snow or tree fort, my Dad drew up a plan.
He read me Hardy Boy books, and then we wrote our own
Detective stories, with Pegleg Pete and tales of skull and bones.
He taught me the love of dance, he’d play the Blue Danube;
I’d put my feet on his feet and he’d waltz me around the room.
Into the night, under the lights, we’d be out playing croquet;
He’d send a ball to rootville, to win that’s how you play.
On walks outside he taught me the names of all the trees;
He taught me to love nature and all of its mysteries.
I’d laugh at all the scary faces he would draw for me at night;
We’d compete to draw the one that would give the greatest fright.
Whatever task that I took on, my Dad was my biggest fan;
He always had an encouraging word, he was such positive man.
When life got tough, my Dad was always right there by my side;
So whatever I faced, I wasn’t alone, he was right there for the ride.
And when his grandchildren came along, Brian, Ryan, Lara, and Drew;
He still played games and taught them things, he knew just what to do.
Whenever he would visit, we would do fun things all day;
And when he wasn’t with us, for each one of us he’d pray.
Though his ears grew deaf and his eyes grew dim, my father never got old;
He had a can-do spirit. His mind was sharp, and his heart was made of gold.
My father lived to 92, but please understand if a tear to my eye this brings;
For He taught me to have a grateful heart for all the simple things.
My father was a humble man, who gave the glory to God;
He was happy walking by quiet streams and fishing with a rod.
He always would look forward, no time for regrets to stay;
“I’m not one for spilled milk,” is all that he would say.
Though he never said an unkind word, others aren’t always that way;
But I watched him turn the other cheek, even on a bad day.
I never heard him say a curse word, no matter what anyone would do;
My father was a gentleman, kind and patient and true.
At 91, he had to be re-operated on, but he did not sigh;
“You take what the Lord gives you,” was his faithful reply.
So many days of laughter, of smiles and jokes and games;
So many people his spirit has touched, we’ll never know all their names.
My father he was faithful to his family, his calling, and his Lord;
For his sweet and loving spirit he was universally adored.
Through all life’s trials he stood by me, a rock on whom I could lean;
Never judging me but only loving me, whether I was an adult, a child, or a teen.
In grace, God called him home to heaven to take part in his reward;
For a life of faithfulness, my Dad now dwells in the house of the Lord.
I can’t find words to tell you how much I love my Dad;
He was the best friend and father that anyone could ever have had.
Wherever I go, I’ll hear his voice, he’ll always be at my side;
His love is all around me, even now that he has died.
Yes my father lived to ninety two, but please forgive me if I cry;
No matter how many years he had lived, it would be too soon, too soon to say goodbye.