Tears For Dad (a post Father’s Day poem)

PawPaw93I didn’t want to say goodbye
I would gladly have spent more sleepless nights at your bedside;
I know, quite selfish of me to hold on so,
But you were my best friend.
I wanted more time with you
I wanted you to tell me more of how life was when you were young.
With you I was able to live through decades I had never seen,
I could listen to you and imagine life simpler, maybe
without as much chaos and stress as I sometimes feel.

You were my connection to family members I never knew,
those family relationships of which death had robbed me;
When you recounted exchanges with your dad and your mother,
and when you remembered times with your older sisters and brothers;
suddenly those old gray-scale photographs were full of color
and I could see smiles in expressionless faces.

But, no more now; I must content myself
with my own memories that are beginning to fade;
you are yet alive there.
And now I feel such a need
to somehow immortalize you in my words;
foolish me,
I know you’ve already done that by your love to so many;
Yet, how will my little offspring know what a wonderful person you were,
I must no longer keep the wonderful relationship we had to myself,
I must share the warmth, joy and love knowing you has brought to me,
I love you, my dear departed Dad, you are still the flickering light glowing within my soul.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

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My Tender Son (sonnet for my youngest)

Matt eating ice creamA tender son my loins begot
Yet peers said, “Raise him rough.
If he’s to see his chosen lot
You must make him tough.”
So on such poor advice I tried
To be rough with my child,
But found it my own heart belied
T’ward my gift so young and mild.
I found their ways too brutish so
I tried soft love instead,
I championed his every move
And poured belief upon his head,
He makes me proud it seems each turning of the Sun,
I’m proudest that my tender son is still my tender son.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

My Rugged Son (sonnet for my firstborn)

Marc cutting up as a boy-2A rugged son my loins begot.
My peers said, “Break him now,
Or you’ll regret it come the months
When you’re standing brow to brow.”
So I thrashed him ’til ’twas I who cried,
Then I reasoned deep within the why,
If God had given him a warrior’s might
Should I then set to make him meek and mild.
So I endeavored to train him then to be,
my rugged child with warlike traits,
the man only God looking forth could see,
one day His grace and love would make.
I’m proud of him now grown, and yet my rugged child,
He’s a man among men, a gentle man…unless he’s unduly riled.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

A Happy Poet?

Pensive

Pensive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a poet how can I be as history’s best
I may have too much joy
I’ve moved on from life’s toughest tests
I’m living in the moment
No sad respite that keeps me down
No lingering melancholy
Except for pains from aging now
I remain carefree and jolly
Pensive tones are hard to invoke
When happiness rules my days
I remember the times my heart hurt so
‘Twas easy then to turn a sad phrase
But I’ll keep my joy; others may lament sad sorrows and woe
I’ve learned life is short; to enjoy requires some letting go

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

Have We Lost The Sense of Adventure?

Daily Prompt: Too Big To Fail

Tell us about something you would attempt if you were guaranteed not to fail (and tell us why you haven’t tried it yet).

Wilbur Wright in prone position on glider just after landing, its skid marks visible behind it and, in the foreground, skid marks from a previous landing; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Wilbur Wright in prone position on glider just after landing, its skid marks visible behind it and, in the foreground, skid marks from a previous landing; Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”* What guy wants the ‘easy’ girl for anything more than a mometary fling? What woman wants the ‘drooling fool’ for anything more than the things he can buy or provide?

Absolutely nothing came to my mind as a guaranteed venture of interest to me when I read this Daily Prompt. This question came to mind: “Have I, or, have we lost the true meaning or sense of adventure?” For most of us, looking for or contemplating guarantees go against our grain. I live in the United States of America. Our entire history is about daring souls braving the risks of personal danger and losing everything in order to fulfill dreams. Some made perilous ocean voyages and other dangerous journeys to get here. Others braved the threats to life and starvation to settle treacherous forests, rolling hills and plains, and desert climates. The wild, wild west got its moniker because of the ‘do or die’, ‘make it or break it’, and the ‘to Californy or bust’ mentality of its settlers.

As with our predecessors and their adventures, it is the lack of guaranteed success that makes the adventure exciting. If I am offered something with a money back guarantee I am immediately skeptical of the product. In my mind the developers or the markets do not have confidence in their product. Or, I begin to think, they are running a ruse or gimmick. Now that gimmick may only be a ‘gamble’ on their part with the law of averages, bettting that most dissatisfied customers would not take the time, effort, and expense of shipping to return their product.

Just as I am hesitant with guaranteed products, I am likewise unimpressed with ‘naked appeal’ regarding anything. We know from having been so overwhelmingly exposed through our entertainment venues that marketers truly believe “sex sells.” However, it sells through the tease and enticement. When in high school and then later in college, the difference in sexually attractive girls was amazing. Some, though beautiful, became known as ‘easy’ in regards to sexual matters and lost their appeal to most guys except for momentary trysts. Other girls, some quite beautiful and some only so-so, could have a line of foolish boys drooling after them just by maintaining an air of mystery and “working it…working it!”

In a related frame of mind I remember being at an awards ceremony for adolescent children a few days ago. Seven people received “The Most Valuable” award. What’s up with that? What has our ‘fear of failing’ society come to? What are we teaching our children?

No, thank you. I’ll pass on the absolute guarantees. I may be older now, but I’m still adventurous. I want my successes to belong to me and not someone who gave me a guarantee!

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING GAINED – “You can’t get anywhere unless you’re willing to take a risk.” The saying dates back to Chaucer (c. 1374)

Brothers So Very Different

Two Brothers

Two Brothers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A dad with two sons and, oh,
they are so very different;
One, though smart, makes his ordinary show,
the other his intelligence.

Esau and Jacob again
at times it seems heaven has sent,
Though it sounds a story the same,
my two sons are not twins.

The firstborn hunts and fishes,
drives trains through the countrysides;
His brother cooks tempting dishes,
writes books, teaches collegiate minds.

I wouldn’t change them any, save, of course, their sins,
in that regard I’m a preacher, there I’ll always vie;
Still, how blessed I’ve been to raise two gents
different as my brothers and I.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

Book Nook Memories (a shortstory)

Daily Prompt: Memories For Sale

~On a weekend road trip, far away from home, you stumble upon a garage sale in a neighborhood you’re passing through. Astonished, you find an object among the belongings for sale that you recognize. Tell us about it.

Cover of "The Normal Christian Life"

Cover of The Normal Christian Life

It was a beautiful autumn day, just perfect for viewing the glorious colors of the changing leaves in the hills and valleys of the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. As we drove from vista to vista our little travelling party observed little sprinklings of yard sale signs along the roadside. My wife and her sisters have trouble proceeding past what looks to be ‘promising’ yard sales or antique shops.

Having pulled aside and after parking precariously on the roadside we made our way to the humble driveway and lawn event. While my wife and I were from the Atlanta, Georgia suburbs and our travelling companions were from Tampa, Florida, and the yard sale hosts were retirees from yet another part of Florida, down-home type greetings were exchanged as though we were all old mountain folks “moseying by one another’s home to sit a spell and chew the fat.” Soon complimentary apple cider was extended and the treasure hunting venture began in earnest.

As usual at these types of yard sale events, differing items were grouped according to interests where possible. The wives are usually drawn in one direction while the men seek out more manly things like tools, sports equipment, etc. I am usually drawn to tables of musical instruments and books seeing that music and reading are my most favorite hobbies. I like nothing better than to find ‘out of print’ books that I can add to my library for very little investment. No such find was to be mine among the old books that day.

Although I did not find the treasure I had hoped for, my heart was thrilled when I noticed a small paperback book, The Normal Christian Life, by author Watchman Nee showing a little age and much use. First, my heart was thrilled because I realized from the marks of usage on the book that someone else had used their copy as much as I had used the one I had purchased years before as a young Christian convert. Then my heart was flooded with the most wonderful memories of love, warmth and joy when I saw a little sales sticker on the back of the book from a small independent bookstore from years past in my hometown of Dothan, Alabama.

I was elated when I saw the little sticker that told the book had come from the same Book Nook bookstore in my hometown where I had purchased my now well worn copy. Immediately my memories went to old friends that I had not seen in over three decades. Although I was in North Carolina physically, I was immediately transported by my memories to that little bookstore opened by a college instructor fulfilling a dream.

Dewey Wilson had opened his Christian bookstore, The Book Nook, in the front portion of a house on a corner lot just a few blocks away from downtown Dothan, Alabama. Dewey, his wife Janice, and daughter Debbie lived in the remainder of the remodeled two-story home. Remembering all quite vividly, I experienced on that cool, crisp autumn day, the same welcome, warmth and love I had felt some many times, so many years before in a place hundreds of miles away. I remembered coming first through their front door as a customer and new acquaintance, then later as close friends and fellow believers entering and leaving their home through their family and friends entrance they had named “The Sheep Gate.”

-You’d better believe I bought the book! I’m still living The Normal Christian Life.

-Donald R. Sansbury, 2013

~Special note of inspiration: Only a few days ago an old friend and I, Allen Jones, renewed friendships after life events and career moves have taken us in differing directions for almost 35 years. Allen was a co-worker and fellow Christian who took me by the Book Nook for the first time when we were both young and introduced me to Dewey and Janice Wilson. Allen not long afterwards married Debbie Wilson, their daughter.