Just shut up if you don't understand it...

After four hard and beautiful days with family in anticipation of my father's death, we are home. It was time well spent. As one friend put it, our work right now is "to love him to death." That is not always simple, but it is always right - and it is both right and complicated when it comes to loving this man. I give thanks for the safety we experienced both travelling to and from Maryland and for the time to tell family stories in the car with Michal and Dianne.
When enough time has passed - and my father has moved from this journey into his return - I may reflect on the hard love we have shared. Bob Franke's song of the same name is a good place to start. For now, however, Robert Bly's poem, "The Russian," speaks to me of what it means to love and lament a man whose wounds I can never fully comprehend.

"The Russians had few doctors on the front line.
My father's job was this: after the battle
Ws over, he'd walk among the men hit,
Sit down and ask:'Would you like to die on your 
Own in a few hours, or should I finish it?'
Most said, 'Don't leave me.' The two would have
A cigarette. We'd take out his small notebook -
We had no dogtags, you know - and write the man's 
Name down, his wife's, this children, his address, and
   what
He wanted to say. When the cigarette was done,
The soldier would turn his head to the side. My
   father
Finished off four hundred men that way during the
   war.
He never went crazy. They were his people.
He came to Toronto. My father in the summers
Would stand on the lawn with a hose, watering
The grass that way. It took a long time. He' talk
To the moon, to the wind. 'I can hear you growing' -
He'd say to the grass. 'We come and go.
We're no different from each other. We are all
Part of something. We have a home.' When I was
   thirteen,
I said, 'Dad, do you know they've invented sprinklers
Now?' He went on watering the grass.
'This is my life. Just shut up if you don't understand
   it.'"

Mostly, I sense, I am supposed to just shut up right now because there is so much I don't understand.

Comments

Peter said…
In essence, "shut up if you don't understand it" is a loose paraphrase of God's words to Job out of the whirlwind. If I had any sense in this world, I would be permanently mute...
RJ said…
Damn that is SOOOO right, brother! I love you and miss you and wish I could share a toast and a cry with you right now. But that will come in time, too. Lots of love.

Popular Posts