a quiet man

I remember more what my father did
than anything he said; how when I was small
he would fill the kitchen with his dress uniform
and lift me high in his arms, so up I felt tall;
but then, the uniform would be put on again later
and he would leave, my mom said
to teach soldiers how to fight;
this pattern repeating until the day
he came home, folded the uniform
and never wore it again
and he no longer belonged to the army
but just us, his gentle eyes and large hands
always finding and fixing in comfortable silence.

***for Father’s Day coming up–NOT this week, lol–thought I would share some of my very earliest memories of my dad.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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21 Responses to a quiet man

  1. doncarroll says:

    very nice tribute to your father. a man of strength but yet his eyes and hands showed his greatness.

  2. Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

    This is very touching, Susan. And I hope you write more about him.

    I have a lot of military folks in my family and my father works for the Department of Defense (he’s a physician). American foreign policy and war service are a complicated topic I find for a lot of reasons (love the soldier but protest the policy?). My father did not go and fight in Vietnam but chose to work for DoD because he wanted to provide healthcare to the women and men who don uniforms. I have always deeply respected what drove him to do so. I also have frequently been overwhelmed by what soldiers and medical personnel will do to save a life. War is so strange. . . it makes people love one another with an intensity that you don’t often see in every day life.

    I also know that so many of the benefits I have enjoyed and that have made me able to put myself in a position to give back has to do with what my father did by serving the U.S. Government but, more importantly, its women and men in uniform.

    The older I get the more this works its way through me. Keep writing. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Jeremy. My dad was career military and I came along at the end of it–he retired from the service when I was three. Thanks for the comments–they are great! I agree with your mixed feeling about soldiers and the need for soldiering–I refer to myself as the pacifist daughter of a military family quite a bit.

      • Jeremy Nathan Marks says:

        A “pacifist daughter of a military family” is a great phrase.

        My father always insisted that it was about the soliders and not the government. He knew young men from his hometown (Pawtucket, R.I.) who died in Vietnam and something in him made him move toward the government that sent them there and use his training in medicine to help them. I have always admired this about him more than I think I will ever be able to say.

        And now, in my own life, I see myself trying to make a similar choice but to work outside of government. It’s an interesting moment because I think about myself and my father and our choices a lot. And I grew up right next door to Washington D.C., so there is a “residue” of that city that is at work in me.

        Like I said, what you wrote is wonderful and is bringing up so many important things. Thank you.

  3. nelle says:

    A nice tribute to your dad…

  4. Endearing, with hands who held. Love this!

  5. Rhonda says:

    pssst…sfam. love this so much, but betwixt you and me…father’s day is the 17th. not tomorrow.
    now you have another whole week to write about your quiet man.

  6. Doris says:

    This is so touching…trying to write about my father, yet is so different, what I like about this, we get to see and feel. I like that you post before father’s day, I never celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14, and it’s such a cliché.

  7. Dewey Dirks says:

    Very beautifully written

  8. Sally says:

    What a beautiful poem, Susan. Thanks for sharing your father with the rest of us.

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