Big hands of this man
Who I remember as a child
Growing up in and at a time,
When real men were fathers then.
Supporting that family no matter what,
Working their fingers to the bone
Trying to provide even in tough times.

Images of that man fall short in memory
Cloudy through a time when this man
Went AWOL on his family
Leaving us, better yet leaving him behind.
The only memory of him is a letter
From a court ordered payment and
Photographs of distant memories
Foggy but yet not forgotten.

My memories were 11 1/2 years short
One year shy of beginning manhood
My changes coming naturally
With an absent man in my life physically.

I use to walk around
I used to walk around say---
"I ain't got no daddy!"
He was absent from my life
And now I'm absent from his life.
The images of him follow me
like a mirror, it's like right there
Starring back at me
Unaware that image of him
Is that very image of me
But only, only in the younger self.

Something my wise grandma told me
That stuck with me all my days,
All my years even until now
That, "no matter what, he's still your daddy."
Deep in my heart there was anger
Anger toward him for leaving me
Going AWOL on your family
At any giving moment even in my lifetime
Yet that anger was still there,
Grandma's words echoed deep inside my soul
And ringing in my ears so loud
Until I wonder if her words are true.

Even then,
I wonder deep inside of me
But as time went onward,
My years is getting older and older
My respect for that man
Who I call daddy
Only by name he's that
But until then I respect him
My daddy who I love even now.

Big hands of this man
Who I now know
Even through years of re-knowing him
In spite of feelings past
I must look forward and celebrate
Celebrate this man who I call my daddy.
Big hands of this man
The years are showing on him now,
The hair that once was black was whitened
Of years he collected through time....

June 2004