Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lyle May 22, 1925- September 16, 2008

You were not my dad but
You were my husband’s dad
And I loved you.
A generation older than my father,
You were not the kind of parent
I was used to.
This child of boomers
Became a daughter by marriage to
A child of the depression
And an Iowa farm.
You were made from austere
Midwestern stock
And traces of
Those hard times
Stayed under your fingernails
And in your pores.
You were hard labor personified
In your mechanic’s overalls—
A master of wrenches and ratchets
Until it hurt too much
To bend over an engine.
You were a man who did, who fixed, who built,
Even in the last years
That you spent mostly
In pain in your chair,
You were always willing
To fix the sprinklers
And drive to church
Where you would press
Your calloused hands
Together in prayer.

I have heard stories
Of your sternness and temper.
And perhaps that part of you
Somewhat shaped your four sons.
But more than that
I have seen how the time you had
With your youngest boy—
The child of your middle age—
And your second wave of grandsons
Softened you, gave you pleasure.
The gift of time and a slower pace
Brought new opportunities
To breathe in fatherhood
And grandfatherhood
A little more deeply.

To me you will always be
The man who welcomed a new
Red-haired daughter
With no hesitation.
Who was so nervous
To dance with me at my wedding
But did it with a smile.
The man who ventured into
The uncharted territory
Of my labor and delivery room
And, standing nervously on its perimeter,
Told me he loved me.
The man who stood up
Behind my son at his confirmation
Even though he was in pain
For many days after.
Who busted out with
The biggest of belly laughs
When surrounded by my sons.
Who never stopped traveling
And seeking adventure,
Even kayaking on the Little Spokane
When the day before
His legs hurt too much to walk.

Remember when,
In mock exasperation,
You would ask me why I couldn’t
Teach Rick any manners?
I would remind you
That you had him
In his formative years.
And that I got him after
It was too late to change him.
Of course we were joking,
But I wish I could have told you
That you gave me a treasure.
How could you know back in 1966
That the biggest surprise in your life
Would one day become
The love of mine?
It is in him that I see
The best of you:
He is principled,
Strong, hard-working
And funny.
And if I get 62 years out of him
Like Pauline did from you,
I will greet you with gratitude
In heaven.
And you will be laughing
At me—
One more naïve girl
Who took on a Davis boy
At a young, crazy age
And not only survived,
But loved every minute.


  1. Sharing those thoughts brought tears to my eyes and how I love your expressive words!

  2. I am so amazed how you express yourself. You are a very talented and gifted writer. Lyle would be very proud and honored.