Memories of my father's friends.
My Father’s Friends
My father had few friends,
coming from a serious and thrifty generation
as he did,
but there were two who impacted me
in different ways
in my childhood and youth.
The first, in the fifties,
when I was no more than a young boy
and overawed by the age and power
of grown ups,
this man was younger than the others
and odd in that he knew my name,
as if I had importance of some kind.
I cannot remember
any words that might have passed between us,
but his image remained through the years
so I knew him
when he sent a cheque as a wedding gift,
in spite of the years since there’d been contact -
I forget the amount.
Somehow that cheque was never cashed,
forgotten in the turbulence of marriage,
and, being found decades later,
it remains a symbol of inexplicable
friendship and respect I did not earn.
The other was a loud and rough man,
straightforward and unafraid to speak his mind,
an extreme copy of a side of my father,
and I, a teenager at the time,
was drawn once, respect for age abandoned
and patience depleted,
into political argument with him.
It was not my most sensible moment.
The man, enraged, demanded
my family remove me from his presence
and I retreated, abashed
but somehow proud
for I’d not been browbeaten into silent submission.
Years later, when all had been forgiven
or, more likely, ignored,
and the man and my father still friends,
his wife, a mouse enslaved by her overbearing husband,
took me aside
and advised with concern
that I should marry only a woman of equal intelligence.
Good counsel or not
(and certainly unasked for),
it was clear to me even then
where such wisdom originated.
She was such a fragile, artistic little thing
and so unable to deflect him from his conviction,
I sometimes wondered how he caught her.
But no matter how she came to the idea,
I now know for certain
she was right.
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