But You Never Knew Him

You talk about him quite often.

But you never knew him.

You recognize him in photographs.

But you never knew him.

You include him in your prayers.

But you never knew him.

You sometimes reveal a little smile that has just a breath of the one he used to give me.

But you never knew him.

You would have gotten “the look” from him on many an occasion. And you would have towed the line when that happened. Trust me.

But you never knew him.

Yet you also would have made the apples of his cheeks protrude with the pride and joy he felt for all of us who felt safe standing in his shadow.

But you never knew him.

He would have loved you and your funny ways. Loved those hugs of yours that come with a running start. Loved your wacky dances. Loved your toothless grin. And he most certainly would have had a nickname for you. Something like “Muckel Jay” or “Mike the Tyke.”

in memoriumBut you never knew him.

Still, you act like you did.

When his name is the first one you think to write down on your paper for All Souls’ Day…

…you act like you knew him.

When I say, “You know who hated strawberries?” and you say, “Dooda”…

…you act like you knew him.

When, out of the blue, you draw an amazing picture of a tank and tell me you made it to put on his grave, the man who always had a war story to tell…

…you act like you knew him.

Maybe I talk about him more than I realize. Maybe the family lore of this man who was our hero is that strong and present. Or maybe he whispers to you when the rest of us are not listening. Maybe God tucked a little bit of him inside of you before you became ours…so that he could still be ours, too.

in memorium
Visiting Great-Grandpa, a.k.a. “Dooda.” My daughter was the only great-grandchild he ever got to meet, but somehow I think he and my son are good friends.

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