In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, I offer a poem I wrote to my dad a few years back.
From the Department of Mirrors
My dad’s dad always told him that
the most important thing is to
be able to look at yourself in the
mirror every morning
and see the man you want to be.
I was a little boy when my dad told me
that and so it didn’t make any sense.
the man I wanted to be was him,
tall, gentle, wise, loving, proud,
a man who gave everything of himself
when we went to the grocery store, always a
person would approach and say “Hi Dr. Klaus!”
with such warmth and appreciation.
my dad could never remember their name
but he would always remember their heart
He is a master of the heart, a cardiologist
the ultimate plumber of the human body,
yet when it was time to fix the sink
he would call another.
like me, he is the opposite of handy
I asked him once “How many times in your career
have you come to a patient that has died,
and put your hands on them
and done something
to bring them back?”
He paused with his thoughtful, careful gaze
and I saw him, counting
“I would say, in the last forty years, probably about once a week.”
I had no idea.
I thought perhaps that happened a few times.
“Clear!!! Zap!! We’ve got a pulse”
and life breathing again, like on TV.
But every week?
My dad gives everything of himself so that others can have
their moms and dads a bit longer
He gives his time, and his health, and his sleep,
his passion, his trust, his love, and his peace of mind,
to all those people whose names
he often cannot remember,
though he always remembers their hearts.
For a long time when I looked in the mirror
I did not see the man I wanted to be
because I was not him.
I wanted to be a healer as well,
but I saw that I fell short.
How to compete with a master of hearts?
How to become a man with the touch of miracle?
How to give everything of myself
when I am selfish and small
and the opposite of handy?
But I have learned that healing comes
in many forms; that it does not happen
only in hospitals or doctor’s offices.
I have learned that healing happens
in every new moment, everywhere, in every breath.
The heart is more than plumbing,
and there are many kinds of mastery,
and I have learned that I too am a healer,
that I too have the touch of miracle.
that I too can be a master of hearts
So today when I looked in the mirror on this father’s day
I saw the man I want to be.
I saw my face, which so closely,
and more so every day,
resembles the face of my father
I saw a man who is tall, and gentle, and wise,
and loving, and proud.
I saw a man who is greeted
with love and appreciation
in the grocery store
I saw myself, and my dad, in the same mirror.
I saw a man who, though not at all handy,
gives everything of himself, who saves lives,
and though he cannot always remember people’s names,
always remembers their hearts.
I love you Dad, Happy Father’s Day!!!
King Bee, Fire-Tender