The best friend for a boy like me
was my best friend, my Big Daddy.
His presence there, from primal time
of rocking chair and nursery rhyme,
through ten grand years of magic things,
of fishing lures and hiking springs,
of horseback rides and kitty cats
and Sunday evening bench-side chats
has left for me a treasure chest
of trinkets little boys love best.
Before awareness came to be,
my Big Daddy was there for me.
He set aside the midweek day
to treat his grandson to some play.
Oh, the joyous, carefree days
with my best friend; fresh trails we blazed
while hiking, whittling, petting cows
before the auctioneer did rouse
the mulling farmers with his moan:
cacophony in monotone.
Those cherished moments in his lap
for stories, hugs, or taking naps
placed me in close proximity
to his shirt pocket…look and see!
Within the darkened, lint-filled space
hid Juicy Fruit in silvery case:
a just reward for being me
(or so he made me think, you see).
But, reach too far, and I would find
a splintered toothpick, which he’d grind
between his teeth into a pulp,
dissolving well before the gulp.
Each Sunday afternoon with me
he sat beneath his cedar tree
and spoke of what meant most to him,
like hair and wood and land and bream,
and newest fishing lures arrayed
with treble hooks, three-jointed made
so as to swivel tastily
when reeled by him so hastily.
Of work he spoke, and ethic, too,
which he lived out and poured into
his childrens’ hearts, so they might find
the strength to bear life’s daily grind.
My fondest, vivid memories
of midweek days with him and me
are of the storied fishing trips
when we would park his car and slip
down to a slough, and there would find
serenity and peace of mind;
togetherness with my best friend.
But then the glorious day must end,
for though the sun be blazing high,
to home he’d head before the sky
turned dark and rained. I wondered why
he always said this. Now I know
he did because he loved me so.
For this excuse gave him a way
to ease my parting pain each day.
My final memory of him
there lying lifeless in a grim
and mournful room, the victim of
a stroke which made his earthly tomb,
by all accounts should seal for me
beneath a weighty lid the glee
my childhood friend had given, oh
those many, happy years ago.
But no, O glorious truth declare,
the Providential Spirit there
saw talents hidden far below
the little boy façade loved so
by my best friend, and there began
a ministry of healing hands
to soften even now the blow
that crippled him so long ago.
Farewell, best friend of childhood’s sphere,
for by the Son’s Grace given here
you have departed to be near
the truest friend of our souls, dear.
But in departing, you have left
a soothing balm to those bereft,
for my best friend has given me
a healing heart, his legacy.