It seems only natural, this descent
from all knowing to mostly knowing,
from providers to people, should come
when we begin wondering how to provide;
how to carve our own path through the fog.
Such a wonderful and terrible burden
the creation of life; that it seems easy
to forget life also has to be made
one day at a time, and renewed
when it wavers, bends, and shudders.
A task like shaving with a hatchet
too delicate to attempt, too important
to ever ignore.
We grew up with four mirrors
and we measured ourselves daily
in the reflection of your eyes.
In the curves and angles of upturned lips
we laid our grades and medals and trophies
but also our jokes and our questions.
We learned, maybe not well enough,
humility from our mistakes, from the wrinkles
that formed briefly on your foreheads
while thinking of the best way to explain
the world’s intolerance of error.
When we abandoned God, we kept you
in the space he should have occupied
and gladly. What other church
could await their saviors each night,
and perform their rituals in the small space
of an opening garage door or the sputter
of a dying spark plug?
Sacrifice wraps itself tighter around you
each day. Every year the silent metronome
ticks away, consuming all the promises
of childhood dreams. For each step you
couldn’t take we try to leap, for each day
unmade by stress and fear we try to remake
by unchaining ourselves from the expectations
of an unsatisfied world.
A lot of people go to college for seven years.
Yes, they’re called doctors, the movie quips.
No, they’re called parents. Seven years for one,
half a lifetime for the other, perseverance personified.
And now after 25 years, with all the most dire hardship
sailing beyond memory into the realm of dream
the greatest task still confronts you, to kickstart love
in the twilight of parenthood. To restore this rusting
bucket to its original shine, without urgency and need
to push you through the next dark corridor.
The powers now that have brought you here;
to sense when we need a coat, to juggle work
and school, and after school activities, to
pay bills and mortgages and tuition, to remember
stacks of phone numbers, or invent troll ailments.
These will not avail you in this last task.
But we have seen the moments between,
the respites of the soul that happen
in blinks. And love will grow again,
like saplings in the shadows of great trees
It will hide in the canopy of careers.
If we have nothing else we have faith,
And love that spiders through our veins
Though your jobs; for mom, to worry
And for dad, to direct, are never really over,
they are about to change. And we will
press on as four erratic streaks of light
across the world, intersecting at random.
In the coming months and years fear
will give way to freedom. This chapter
may start with a whimper but if I know
anything, it will end with a bang. Both
of you have defied all the expectations
placed upon you, and will continue to.
I cannot imagine what the unburdened
Wheats will be truly capable of, but
I know at the end of the day, or year
or decade we will be as proud of you then
as we are right now.
Happy Anniversary…you old people.