My mother wrote poetry throughout her life, some mediocre and some quite poignant. She wrote the following poem about her father, Will Fitzsimons. Although it’s far from the best she’d written it did describe her feeling toward her father.

It’s easy to see that she loved him quite dearly.

My Dad

By, Laura Annette Fitzsimons

Decorative floral flourish

You’d find a hint of the Irish

if you peered under the cap of him.

But his lineage was certain

when you looked at the map¹ of him.


A sprightly pace, a red mustache

And a twinkle in his eye.

It wasn’t hard to spot him

When he went walking by.


Most everyone I’ve talked to said,

“He loves to laugh or make a pun.

We just like to be around him

‘Cause he is so damn much fun.”


He said to me, “Go have your fun,

But not at other folk’s expense.”

The value of his warning,

There’s no need for recompense.


One time when he still lived at home

With his folks upon the farm,

He slipped and fell and broke a bone;

I think it was his arm.


Because he couldn’t do the chores

Or tend horses in the paddock,

They decided it was time for school,

To study with Professor Babcock.


Some thought that he

Would now become an educated jerk,

Who knew his books,

But very little about a hard day’s work.


But in years that followed

When he produced butterfat to sell,

They all agreed that Babcock’s lessons

Had served him very well.


He was planting wheat and soybeans

Before most people had;

And kept up with the daily news,

Soaked up history like mad.


He was a hard dirt farmer

And a businessman, as well.

He had some farm equipment

And some lightning rods to sell.


He had the Ford car agency,

The first one in the town,

But never made a fortune

Like some other folks around.


He made some business errors

Like many of us do,

But he didn’t cover up

Or hide them from plain view.


He didn’t always reach the goals

That most of us work for.

But he knew the most important things,

Like when enough, don’t grab for more.


He always loved his horses,

To drive them and to ride,

And the horses that he owned

Were his joy and his pride.


If a neighbor or a friend

Needed help along the way,

He was usually there to help them

With their grain or with their hay.


Even when we acted bad,

He didn’t shout or spank us.

One look of disappointment,

We obeyed without a fuss.


I never heard him speak a word

Of disrespect toward my mother,

Although she scorched his eggs a bit,

And made mistakes like any other.


I’m certain there were many times

When he felt not very good,

When his pesky arthritic leg

Wouldn’t move him like it should.


The last time I remember him

Was sharpening a tool.

When he turned the big old grindstone,

I poured water on to cool.



Decorative floral flourish


Harold William Thorpe is the author of several books based on his family’s history in Iowa County, Wisconsin including: Giddyap Tin Lizzie, Bittersweet Harvest and the rest of the O’Shaughnessy Chronicles.



  1. (She used map, which was sometimes used to describe how facial features could portray a person’s nationality)



If you like this you'll love the O'Shaughnessy Chronicles!

When a sibling unexpectedly inherits his grandfather’s dairy farm, Will O’Shaughnessy turns to selling Fords in rural, pre-World War I southwestern Wisconsin.

A richly wistful epic tale of a bygone era....Readers will yearn for more. ~ Midwest Book Review