Thursday, June 18, 2020

Three Steps Behind

It feels like he was always three steps ahead
or maybe that I was three steps behind.
I know that sounds like it's saying the same thing twice.
But there's a difference.

One thought is more about him knowing where he was going, and the other,
has to do with my sense of lagging, or dawdling, or distraction.

I can see him on the trail to the barn, between the corral and the chicken coup.
His face away from mine, shoulders bent slightly forward, surveying the world before him;
silent most of the time.
Or on the way out into the field...
Carrying a bucket of grain...or
With a rope over his shoulder...or
A saddle and blanket slung over his back...or
Pushing a wheelbarrow with a fence-stretcher,
        a sledge-hammer, a post-hole digger,
               a roll of barbed-wire, or bale of alfalfa in it.

Usually, I was carrying something too, and periodically I would adjust my pace to try and catch up.
But his strides for so many years were just enough longer,
that I would drift back to that familiar place
 ...three steps behind.

Then we arrived, at wherever he had meant for us to go,
and he would lay out the plan for whatever we needed to do while we were there.
Quietly he would explain the roles that each of us would need to fill
to finish the task that was before us.
Sometimes I would grimace because I knew that it was going to take hours to lay out, repair, or build
what he had in mind, and I was certain there were
                                more important things to do with my time.

I would offer much,
for an hour,
or as long as I'm in the place of wishing,
a whole day,
to just follow and listen and learn....
                            and laugh with you...Dad.
I know that I could pay more attention today.
Distractions would not win.
My heart and mind longs to borrow your ability to plan;
to see past the moment towards the end.
...and these moments today are so full of challenge, headache and heartache.

But you are long beyond those three steps ahead of me now.
Even so, every once in a great while, I think that I catch your vision somewhere,
pausing as you walk,
turning your shoulder to face me.
        I see your smile, beckoning me forward.
                            ...And I'm reminded that one day,
I'll catch your stride again,
              the space between us will disappear
And we'll have all the time we need
                                          ...all the time I want.

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