How Some Dads I Know Spent the Past Year

On Mother’s Day, made a list of some things moms I know went through in the year of Covid.  So, doing the same for the guys here on Father’s Day.

Went to get takeout and died when a distracted driver t-boned his car.

Took his family on their last vacation in Mexico just as the virus hit, then spent the rest of the year methodically saying his goodbyes and best wishes to everyone he loved before cancer took him.

Spent a month in hospital with a shattered leg, buried his grandmother, did stay-at-home dad helping one teen with autism cope with zoom school and the kid’s twin cope with their discovery of their non-binary gender.

Caught covid (did not have to be hospitalized) driving his softball playing daughter around the South to not quite socially distanced tournaments.

3 dads:  Taught creative writing via zoom, taught occupational therapy via zoom, taught junior high special education via zoom.

Welcomed a new baby into the family while at the same time launching an online occupational therapy business with his wife (which, by the way, is thriving).

Handled three PRN home care therapy gigs while being Mr. Mom to a toddler son (wife an overburdened anesthesia tech at a major hospital).

Stayed home with his toddler daughter, getting his exercise on walks to the park and VR games, while wife – an overburdened anesthesia tech – worked at a major hospital.  (Different family).

Nursed his wife as she died from cancer, then once vaccinated, made the rounds of his widely scattered adult kids (and grandkids) with hugs, laughter, and generosity.

Reconfigured a college curriculum he directed as covid hit, all while completing his dissertation and raising three kids stuck at home and zooming school (this dad, btw, is blind).

Spent four months in solitary confinement in a federal prison, not for disciplinary reasons, but as a precaution against catching covid (a lot more, as you’d imagine, to this story).

It was a tough year for dad’s, too, folks.  Hope we’ve all learned from this ordeal about the importance of love, connection, and caring, along with a sharper appreciation of how tenuous is our time here, and how precious. Happy Father’s Day, y’all.

Visiting Friends in the Mountains – a poem

Drove five hours out to see my friend Rondalyn at her creekside home in Morgantown this week, came home and went right back out the next day to do some woodworking with my friend Ken at his riverside retreat in Verona. Conflated the trips in this revery at the brink of retirement from my career at VCU:

On the cusp of summer
driving to see friends
out in the mountains:

The pencil thin road
traces a cleavage
of hills like a reclining
body’s contours, so you

roll down the window
reach out and tickle
the breeze with your fingers.

These are ages old ranges
comfy as sofas the plush
deciduous carpet running
right across their peaks.

Old friends, too.
I don’t need my GPS
to find them though
the highway climbs to
rutted trails along
serpentine streams.

They greet me
with hugs and dogs
the whole visit like
those fairy tales where
the wandering and lost

find a hermit and his
hermitage and a way
of living that invites
a raft of questions
about what you do
and why.

We sit in rockers out back
shoulders round
faces creased
sipping whiskey.

Our babble and the stream’s
worrying the puzzle
of worn rock at our feet
as twilight deepens.

Feed More Run: a poem

Feed More run along Route One
the old Jeff Davis now Richmond Highway
its street signs the only new things around.

Turn off to the neighborhoods behind.

A mix of old homes, some kept up with painted porches
an occasional larger place with a manicured lawn

but mostly the bedraggled salt boxes, the trailer parks,
the sagging window AC’s, the rusting chain link fences,
the wheelless cars on jacks, the rutted pavement.

My clients crack the door sucking oxygen from hoses
on a cane or a walker, make an effort to smile.

Or you open to a hoarder’s stash, old man reclined
on a hospital bed the blasting tv at his feet
next stop a woman likewise arranged, says,
close the door quick – don’t let out my cat!

Second richest county in the seventh richest state
in the wealthiest nation in the world. 

Pull off Hwy 1 into a trailer park older than you are
and you are not young.  People coping as they can. 

Homes decay into the red clay,
cold hearts & kudzu conspire to blanket it all.

Beach Reads!

For your Summer reading pleasure, hope you’ll consider books from my growing NeXTeXT collection. With last week’s publication of Sarah Knorr’s poetry, you can choose from a Charlottesville novel, a gripping story collection, a memoir of the Greatest Generation, and two books of poems. All available on Amazon (or ask for them at your local bookstore). Have a great Summer, everyone – read on!