(An early Fathers’ Day poem)

Almost never have a reason to drive Clays Mill Road anymore
but I sometimes take the detour coming back from work
just to pass by the old childhood home on Cecil Way
with its rock bed and three dogwood trees
right there on the corner.
Most people familiar with the area
know exactly the house I’m talking about
on the mention of those trees alone.

Part of the family for two decades,
my parents sold it in early 2016,
moving back to their Owensboro hometown
after a freak coincidence of both losing their jobs.
Going back was already the plan,
so they took fresh obstacle as a sign
to get it all over with in a few stressful months
and they are both the happier for it.

Those last couple of years were something special, though.
Of their four children, I was the only one still in Lex.
While I could have, and now wish I had visited more
I relished the opportunities to help out where able.
Particularly, it was a lot of yard for dad to mow
in the midst of a Monday through Friday car mechanic job,
but I always had at least one day off.
Two hours well-spent, punctuated every time by a thank you text.

There was also the rock bed around the dogwoods
where weeds would spring forward from between the rocks.
Dad hated them, but the challenge here
was a still unidentified allergy leaving him with rashes
every time he tried to clear it out.
I noticed the weeds as I passed with the mower one day,
thinking what’s another half hour of work?
That was a text I very much looked forward to.

Except that one never came…

It was a challenging evening, but I gave benefit of the doubt;
I’d be right back to the mower next week
as if nothing had happened.
But the next day, I forget why,
I ended up bck at the house for a visit.
Dad met me in the driveway
first thanking me in person for the lawn.
Now he had another favor to ask.

He walked me into the yard, saying
As you know, I have a hard time with these weeds…
Voice trailed off, blue-screened expression on his face
gazing at the rock bed.
Surprise, was all I said.
He shook his head and laughed,
well alright then. Thank you, son.
The joy in that moment!

I don’t get those moments much now from afar,
but I know the times will come back around.
One benefit of him being back in Owensboro
is he gets to help his siblings with their aging father.
Someday he’ll be the aging father
and I’ll be the son moving home to help how I can;
the cycles of growing up and growing old.
Maybe I’ll even mow the lawn again.