DEAR READERS: Today is Father's Day, and I offer good wishes not only to fathers everywhere, but also to those caring individuals who are donating their time mentoring youngsters whose fathers are absent or deceased.
On Mother's Day, I printed a poem titled "The Reading Mother" by Strickland Gillilan. It reminded me that a few years ago, Hilda Bigelow, a retired teacher in Cocoa, Fla., wrote a companion poem honoring her father on his day. Read on:
FATHER TALKED TO ME
I had a father who talked with me --
Allowed me the right to disagree.
To question -- and always answered me,
As well as he could -- and truthfully.
He talked of adventures; horrors of war;
Of life, its meaning; what love was for;
How each would always need to strive
To improve the world, to keep it alive.
Stressed the duty we owe one another,
To be aware that each man is a brother.
Words for laugher he also spoke,
A silly song or a happy joke.
Time runs along, some say I'm wise;
That I look at life with seeing eyes.
My heart is happy, my mind is free,
I had a father who talked with me.
Many readers also have asked me for a prayer in memory of a father who is no longer living. The following is a prayer from my Hebrew Union Prayer Book, the one that is recited on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is also available in my "Keepers" booklet:
IN MEMORY OF A FATHER
"Thy memory, my dear father, fills my soul at this solemn hour. It revives in me thoughts of the love and friendliness which thou didst bestow upon me. The thought of these inspires me to a life of virtue; and when my pilgrimage on Earth is ended and I shall arrive at the throne of mercy, may I be worthy of thee in the sight of God and man. May our merciful Father reward thee for the faithfulness and kindness thou has ever shown me; may he grant thee eternal peace. Amen."