Friday, April 8, 2016

A Keeper of Life

Robert Leslie Smith M.D.
March 4, 1921 - March 27, 2016

He was a man of intelligence, wit, curiosity, gentleness, integrity, adventure, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, music, and talent.

He was also a man of dreams and disappointments; faith and doubts.

He was a man of God with all its glory, yet he was a man of flesh with all its flaws.

He was a keeper of mementos, poetry, and art.

He was my father.

I honor his life today by reflecting on a few of his own words and art: his keepings.

Rug Rolling

When I was a very little boy
I had a favorite ploy
     I used;
To get even with my mother
For something or other,
Bobby rolled up the rugs.
Not just throw rugs, two feet by four,
But big rugs that went from door to door
     in the living room.
If the floor was bare
And there was a chill in the air,
Bobby had rolled up the rugs.
Looking back in contemplation,
It was the reaction to frustration
     that made me do it.
Mom wouldn't let me do what I wanted,
I felt I was being taunted,
So Bobby rolled up the rugs.
Mom would wait until I cooled off, and then
Make me roll them back down again
     just as they were.
It's been a lesson for me to this day--
The futility of reacting in such ways
As rolling up the rugs.

The Advantage of Being Married to your High School Sweetheart

I'm so happy that our memories fuse
And if from the past I lose
A name or a face
You can remember who it was
Or when it was
And put it in it's proper place.
There must be many things that one forgets
In fifty years or so
Never to remember.
What a satisfaction to know
That if I've forgotten
You may have not and
A memory we might otherwise lose
Is right there where our memories fuse.

Footprints in the Snow
My early morning footprints
In fresh fallen snow,
Made even more distinct
With the sun's daybreak glow
Casting deep blue shadows
In the mark of heel and toe,
Remind me of some deeds I have done,
Both bad and good:
Soon after, in the sun,
They too stood
sharply etched for all to see.
The sharp contours of footprints
Are quick to go
With sun, wind, and more snow.
God's forgiveness of the bad we do
Is just like that, I know.
As for the good deed, I'm afraid
It too fades as snowprints fade;
And the good done by many
Which we at first acclaim,
Is soon forgotten, just the same.

Bittersweet Passage (written shortly after my daughter, Mackenzie, died)
The filly, mane flowing,
Runs to me in leaping strides,
Eyes wide.
Is she just playful or
Has she been spooked?
I step back to avoid the push,
She stops short and nuzzles my neck.
Not lost, but feeling too much
Of the holiday crowd around her,
She was there before I knew it.
Again she nuzzles.
This, before another girl
Painted a flower on her cheek,
A memento to last.
Without a backward look
Or toss of her head,
She streaks away
to the fields Elysian,
Too distant to see through tears.

Hey, old man
You've done all you can
Why don't you let go?
Is it fear?
You never were afraid before
To open any door
Not knowing what was on the 
     other side.
It's not fear, but love.
When one abides
On Mother Earth
As long as I,
He grows to love her
And those who are here--or were;
Ah, there's the key--
All those I loved
Who in turn loved me
Are gone...I should join them;
Maybe tonight, we'll see.

He was a man whose living made a difference, and I loved him.