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.
By, Laura Annette Fitzsimons
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.
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.
- (She used map, which was sometimes used to describe how facial features could portray a person’s nationality)