After WWII through the 1960s, many working-class families joined the middle class forever.
|After their father’s funeral their aunt|
overhears her three nephews saying how
they all had grown distant from him and can’t
stand how making mistakes he wouldn’t allow.
“Dad lived by keeping a strict honor code --
always doing what’s right, doing his best.
He expected us to follow his road.
When we strayed, it was like we’d failed his test.”
Their aunt interrupts, “You don’t understand
what your dad went through. Our folks lived paycheck
to paycheck. Our life never was so grand.
A day’s work left men a physical wreck.
“Our own dad came home after hard labor
with sore back and bruised hands, his blue work shirt
soaked with sweat and salt rings. Every neighbor
worked the same. We saw how these men would hurt.
“For generations our family’s men
all wore blue collars. Your dad wanted much more.
To turn blue shirt white, he had to begin
climbing to new heights like never before.
“Your dad knew to succeed against the sons
of rich men he must be better than they.
His achievements had to shine like the sun’s,
his reputation spotless, with no gray.
“He worked harder, was smarter, accepted
nothing less than his best in all he did.
His success was greater than expected.
From our working-class history we’re rid.
“In our family your dad was the first
to earn a college degree; more advanced
degrees followed. That barrier now burst,
your being doctors, lawyers was enhanced.
“Your dear father, my brother, built the bridge
from our childhood history to the one
you grew up with. It was quite a tall ridge
he scaled. It was a war getting it done.
“His higher standards you complain about
was his armor he wore in making war
against all who’d drag him down, drive him out.
Failure to do your best he did abhor.
“I’ve said my piece. I think it’s truly sad
how the privileged life your dad gave you
didn’t make you all more grateful to your dad
and worst, your lack of respect, your dad knew.”
(Poetic format: abab end-rhyming, 10 syllables per line)
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