Things That Once Were

I wrote poetry, once upon a time.  I still do, actually, when the mood strikes me.  Generally, now, the mood that strikes me is puckish and what I write is humorous.

Grandpa at 90

I was remembering, recently, a time when my grandfather was sitting in my mother’s living room and mulling things over.  He was matter-of-fact.  He always was, with a puckish sense of humor.  I remember him laughing at some hobbling fellow who had told him that when Grandpa reached 60, as he had, he’d like to lean on a cane.  Grandpa was in his late 70s then. 

He was in his nineties that evening, a WWI veteran, a musician, a fly fisherman, gardener – my Grampa.  He was talking about life, and he said that young men think of all the things they want to do in the future, while an old man like him knows that the future contains his departure. 

Grandpa lived to be 100 years old plus a month.  His last words to me, when I hurried to the hospital to see him, were ‘I love you!’.  He died in his sleep.

On the evening I mentioned, I started thinking, and I ultimately wrote a poem.  I like the form of a sonnet, and that is what I wrote.  My grandfather loved it.  And I lost it in the course of many moves.  I didn’t have a computer at that time, just paper.

It was entered in a poetry contest of sorts (the kind where you ‘win’ and get to buy a volume of poetry that contains your effort.  I didn’t bother) and then it was lost.

Recently, I tried to find it.  My mother went through all her papers – no luck.  But she gave me a number of old poems, which I put away.  Last night I was sorting through them – and here it is, not lost forever and regretted, but complete, tying the past to the present.

                                                  Sonnet for my Grandfather 

                                Could I by some chance make you stay with me
                                Beyond the moments given you by time,
                                If I could somehow stay your destiny,
                                            Unravel fate’s thread and unsay life’s rhyme –
                                I’d spend a thousand summers by your side,
                                Distill them to the touch of one clear day
                                Within the stippled shade where brown trout hide,
                                Watching the water skimmers’ silent play
                                            Along the surface; I would stay with you
                                And hold your hand nor would I hurry on
                                As once I did, to matters fierce and new,
                                Whose call to me was brief, whose thrill is gone.
                                            But at your side I’d cheerfully remain,
                                            Knowing those times could never come again. 

                                                                    Diana Wilder  © 1979

12 comments on “Things That Once Were

  1. Jill Haugh says:

    Sob. Sniff. Sigh.~JJ

  2. Diana Wilder says:

    Nah. If you'd known him you'd be grinning. (Or do you mean the poetry is wretched? On that head we are in agreement!)

  3. Hi Diana .. what great memories – he does sound a man with a certain je ne sais quoi …. a man with a great sense of wisdom and love of life .. what a wonderful age to live to – I'm so pleased he had a good and quiet ending ..I love the poem too – describing his life .. his fishing .. cheers Hilary

  4. S.K. Anthony says:

    This is… wow… so touching.I'm glad you found it… sigh.

  5. Beautiful poem and tribute to your grandfather. Your grandfather was a truly blessed man to live to be such a ripe old age, and to fall asleep with the angels is God's grace!

  6. Doggone it, girl! You've got me crying. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather; I'm so glad it wasn't lost. You've captured emotions we've all felt at one time, and captured them beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Wonderful post. So glad you were able to find this beautiful poem and keep that tribute alive. What a blessing.I've had old writings that I can no longer find that stay on my mind – even ones from junior high school. Have a great weekend! Writer’s Mark

  8. Diana Wilder says:

    Thank you, Hilary. He'd have enjoyed talking to you about gardening and traveling.

  9. Diana Wilder says:

    Sometimes things don't stay lost.. I love your cover!

  10. Diana Wilder says:

    Thank you, Cathrina -He was one of those who seemed to shed grace around them (with a wink and a grin, though…)

  11. Diana Wilder says:

    Nancy -I've been enjoying your excerpts from old journals – and wishing I'd saved some of mine. …though mine might have embarrassed me…

  12. Diana Wilder says:

    It's funny how we really can't reconstruct something we've written and lost. Approximate it, maybe. Improve on it, maybe. Duplicate… no.

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