My father woke up in the night last week with part of this poem in his mind and walked into his dining room office to write it down on a construction clipboard on blue-lined paper. Where I found it the next morning.
As we chatted about it, I suggested it might be fun to try as an exchange of letters between the father and daughter. I’m so pleased that Pop agreed to experiment with my idea, yielding the poignant result below.
I particularly thrill to the lines: “Each task you did with love and skill/ Was like a work of art” as that exactly expresses for me the way I see my father approaching his work, and his love for fixing things.
How do you heal a broken heart?
by Erwin A. Thompson
For Janet, my youngest
My dolly, when her arms came off,
You fixed as good as new.
And then you fixed my roller skates,
When they lost a screw.
Each task you did with love and skill,
Was like a work of art.
I’ve got another job for you.
What do you have to heal a broken heart?
Well, Honey—I don’t righly know.
That’s a bigger job, by far.
You need to crawl up on my lap,
Or listen to my old guitar
There is a song for everything,
Sorting through the pile.
Soft, sad music for the heart break
And some will make you smile.
You always loved with all your heart,
You gave your treasure to a friend.
You gave your heart to careless hands
With heart break at the end.
I cannot change this careless, thoughtless world
Or its people, and the things they do.
Just come on home, and rest awhile;
And be ready when it’s time to start anew.