Near the end of the last millenium I tried my hand at writing poems in every available style and meter. One of them I addressed to my younger daughter when she had recently been abandoned by her first husband, father of their infant daughter, whom she subsequently divorced. I penned this acrostic sonnet to re-assure her of her father’s love and my appreciation of who she is.
FIONA FAITH AT THIRTY ONE
On a card purchased in the Market Hall in Ashby de la Zouch during a family reunion (from which a college field trip had excluded her) was the exposition of FIONA, the name of our younger daughter.
‘From the Celtic, meaning “fair or white”.
Her strength of character enables her to
overcome all obstacles.
She is compassionate and caring.
Success is certain to come her way.’
Fresh-faced ‘pink doll’, we hear the nurse enthuse;
A ‘gift to brother Ian, sister Grace’
Is how the ad reads in The Evening News –
Right royal welcome to the Fair-of-Face.
We guard you well as child and youth firsthand,
However many times you choose to make,
In daydreams, trips to Never-Never Land,
Too rarely to life’s harsher side awake.
First dawns with courtship, marriage, motherhood.
Inferno strikes while running lap thirty –
Oh, rough reality, how raw and crude!
Now a graduate in Life’s Experience,
A stunner still with hard-won confidence. (Hugh Thompson, 4 October l998)
She later married a faithful husband and mothered their two fine sons.
I never thought that a couple of decades after composing that poem for her she would compose (in her head on her way to work) a couple of poems of how she thinks of her octogenarian father, ‘warts and all’.
She could have held onto them secretly for my memorial service but, as my own father loved to quote some poetic lines about telling a fellow of your appreciation while he’s still breathing:
Don’t wait till life is over and he’s pushing up the clover.
No man can read his tombstone when he’s dead.
The apostle Paul waxed lyrical whenever he expressed his affection for his youthful disciple Timothy in any letter he wrote to him. He called him:
‘Timothy, my true son in the faith’ (1 Timothy 1:1). ‘Timothy, my dear son, . . . I thank God for you . . . I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother [in Fiona’s case, Evelyn Burt] and your mother [Rosemary Thompson]. And I know that same faith continues strong in you’ (2 Timothy 1:2 and 5).
Here are Fiona’s two poems. Was this first one her earlier attempt, perhaps?
Larger than life, vocal and sure,
Full of opinions and tales,
Fills a whole room with his presence and voice –
His need to amuse never fails.
No shrinking violet, he makes himself known
To all who should dare cross his path,
Engaging each human or canine with chat,
Causing so many to laugh.
Not quite got hold of political correctness –
Offence may be taken, not meant –
Causing his loved ones to flinch and apologise
At the odd comment he’s sent.
Once met, not forgotten (though some they may try),
He leaves all with memories so strong.
Though he may not be everyone’s cup of tea
His mission’s to show all they belong.
He may not be perfect, but one thing’s for sure,
He will fight for what’s right and what’s true.
If someone has wronged you he’ll fight for your cause.
He will make sure that justice wins through.
And he has always been there for me, stood my my side,
Told me I’m doing alright,
Championed me when I’ve been knocked off course
And helped me stand firm and fight,
Encouraged me when I’ve been down and felt low,
Cheered along when life’s been great,
Loved me though all, never doubted my strength,
And, as well as my dad, he’s my mate!
(Fiona Faith Lightowler, 2021)
I think she gets into her stride with this next poem.
Sometimes your need to talk to all can really drive me mad,
And jokes can be repetitive, predictable and bad.
You try to make me laugh when I’m enjoying feeling sad,
But I’m still incredibly proud that I get to call you Dad.
You’ve always been there for me, whatever life may throw,
With a hug or laugh to lift me up if I’ve been feeling low,
There to fight for me in battles and soften every blow.
I feel immensely proud that I get to call you Dad.
Life can be frustrating for you when things don’t come to mind,
When you must record each detail, or your keys you cannot find.
To recall a thought your mind goes through a very slow rewind,
Yet I feel so very proud that I get to call you Dad.
You’ve always been my advocate, had faith that I’d achieve,
Cheered me on, supported me and helped me to believe,
Stayed right by my side when others chose to leave.
My heart’s felt your quiet whisper say, “I’m proud that I’m your Dad.’
(Fiona Faith Lightowler, 2021)