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!

My father–always distinguished.


About Ben

I'm a father, a husband, an educator, and a soldier. I love the outdoors especially the mountains.

5 responses »

  1. Jimmy says:

    nice post

  2. Dad says:

    I have been known to make smart aleck remarks, so I’m a little hesitant to write. But, thanks. These are things that you just do. I’m glad at least one of my kids appreciates the sacrifices enough to acknowledge them, but really, when you are doing them, they aren’t sacrifices, they are, like I said, just the things that you do. (Whoa, comma splice! I used to teach English, too.)

  3. Matt B says:

    A beautiful tribute and a splendid photograph. Though I will never be able to think of your father with anything other than jet black hair. And, though he wears the blue shirt and gold tie beautifully, in my memory he will always be dressed in fabulously embroidered long Mexican shirts that are designed to be worn loose. This is the image I will always have of the patriarch of the large family down the street with whom I shared ten Thanksgivings.

  4. He does look very distinguished! And i suspect you will have the same look – right now you are still just too young and plain handsome!

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