Today my heart is full of memories. A flood of emotion and thoughts of childhood greet me on this morning each year. Some I push away and others I savor as each child of a great man should. My father was a great man. Despite his stature, he loomed large in our lives -- caressing, demanding, pushing us to become strong in a world of uncertainty. He urged us to "just try it," never allowing us to shrink back from challenges we faced.
I love you Papa and wish you were still here to celebrate today and tomorrow, but you taught me that this is not the way of life. So, today I cling to fond memories and offer a poem about a place shared with my father and his father and his father.
The largest natural lake in Indiana -- Lake Wawasee -- holds our souls.
I am grateful for all my fathers reaching back to Leonhard Buergi who ventured from the Alsace across an ocean to freely practice his faith.
(Note: Formatting poetry on this website is challenging. That is my disclaimer. Nothing more to add)
By the Lake
At night when I return to musty smells of cottage walls
and soft murmurs of grown-ups on the old screened porch below
The crickets chee-ree, and a squirrel’s clatter in the attic we thought was a wolf,
and the oarlocks’ creak as old Harley and Wilma head out of an evening
to catch a pike for supper, late.
Quiet laughter is muffled by ripples dissolving into the cracked seawall at twilight.
Waves caress velvet nightfall after
a day of frolic and bluster
tumbling down the whitewashed dock
curled tight inside the tube of an old tractor tire
crashing into a gumbo of giggles,
no eyes poked out on air valves.
Eight tousled cousins mewling and tumbling like kittens at play,
pausing only to sit in a row on the flocked-green couch watching
the mantle clock tick tock the long hour after dinner
Until We could play again without the dreaded cramp and certain drowning.
Oh to once more watch minnows massing along the seawall as daylight ebbs behind the monastery turned Sphinx Hotel across the liquid expanse of three miles,
Nibbling emerald threads swaying with the tide, darting into the crack and and right out again, as children do.
Mother mallard leading her clamorous charge on parade,
bobbing for bits of day-old crusts tossed by
Eight tousled cousins sitting in a row on weed-stained cement of the old seawall.
And pop bottles strewn ‘cross that old sycamore stump, felled
in wintertime before trucks drove right onto the ice to haul its immensity away.
And cattails, chocolate lollipops rising straight out of lily pads, bursting
into tufts of playful naiads in late summer.
Misty mornings, with not a whisper of sound except waves knocking on old walls,
When that old green rowboat heads to the fishing hole where blue gills are bigger than a man’s hand.
That’s what Gramp says. “Right out there, straight off the pier.”
A tendril of memory nudges and I return to lie awake on the lumpy mattress among tousled cousins,
Yearning to be all grown up to stay up late murmuring softly on the old screened porch By the Lake.