Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden.
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
No, I did not know or understand back then. When I was a child. But I do now–now that I have my own children. And I’m grateful.
My dad did those things to make my life a little more comfortable. Like the time he took a job in a cheese factory when he couldn’t find any other work. Or for the years he would pack a bologna sandwich for lunch so we could have more in ours. Or for knowing that once when he bought himself a soft-serve ice cream cone he said he felt guilty for doing it. You didn’t have to feel guilty, dad. You deserve a certain measure of happiness too. Or the winters he would drive to work with a quilt covering his legs because he couldn’t or wouldn’t afford to repair the heater in his old car so that we drive to school in a heated car.
Without complaint he did this for me, for us. Thank you! Happy Father’s Day, Dad!