The gift

Hi everyone,

Our son Jeff Harrison pulled this poem from the files. I wrote it about Sandy’s father, Ralph Kennon, after he died. One day Sandy and I cleaned out her dad’s clothes closet, a sad task, but the act stirred many pleasant memories and the poem grew from them. I offer it here today because I’ve enjoyed thinking back to all those good times and want to share this glimpse into a fine man and his life.

The Gift

I fold his clothes,
recognizing some,
like old acquaintances
not met for a while
that recall stories of the man.

Checking jacket pockets,
my hand pulls out a program:
Westminster Presbyterian, 1996.
They spent most Sundays cooking,
bringing food to share,
left little time to collect
church programs.

This pocket yields a wrapper,
the candy sucked, I’m guessing,
as he crossed a parking lot
keys in hand.
The toothpick’s in here too.

This paperclip? Easy.
Bet he went to the bank that day,
took a deposit, kept the clip.
Waste not want not he’d say.

Black comb, hip pocket.
He had such beautiful hair:
thick, wavy, bright white.
She liked to comb it.
He liked that too.

A man of routine, keeper of receipts,
planner of pool shots,
pitcher of pennies;
ate out on Tuesday,
bowled on Friday,
attended high school reunions.
Organized his clothes front to back,
newest by the door transitioning
by age in a slow march toward the rear.

These pants at the back say garden.
I can see him there,
behind the garage,
tilling his beloved soil,
scooping out rows
like doodlebug holes,
dripping in seeds,
soaking with that old green hose,
intent on the joys
of working alone in the sun.

I fold his clothes,
fill boxes, make lists.
They’re just clothes, really,
without the man.
Whoever gets them
won’t get the stories.

I kept nothing when he died
but now I know
I’ll keep these stories
like books from a library
checked out to cherish again.

Life records it memories.
I fold his clothes
and give thanks.

(C) David L. Harrison, all rights reserved

19 comments on “The gift

  1. A beautiful way to remember a special man. I’ll think differently as I walk into my closet this morning, wondering what someone will think of me someday as they pack away my things. I hope they have such wonderful memories.

    • If we were thoughtful, Su, we’d tuck away two or three little mysteries to give them something to wonder about.

      • That’s a fun idea, David! When I was helping my folks clean out my Grandma Susie’s house, we kept finding little stashes of money here and there! Although it was a sad job to be doing, it became somewhat of a game to see who could find the next stash! (Dad explained that his mom had gone through the Depression, and would put money here and there around her house so she’d always have some cash on hand.)

      • Sandy’s parents did that too. Sandy never was completely certain she found all the stashes. One was in a heat vent.

    • Thank you, dear heart. I’m glad that Jeff ran across it in the files. I’d nearly forgotten about it so now I get to bring back pleasant memories all over again.

    • Thank you, Michelle. I knew him a long time and ate tons of fresh vegetables from his garden. On Sundays Sandy’s folks liked to cook a full meal, load it into a basket, and bring it to our house to share. Pie included.

    • Thank you, Clark. It is good to see an old classmate drop by. We go back to 3rd grade? That’s when my family moved back from Arizona.

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