The year that my father died, I took him three Christmas gifts.

He was living alone at the time, quite depressed, and although we didn’t normally exchange gifts I thought a few little presents might cheer him up a little.

He was mortified when he saw the (poorly) wrapped presents and protested, “But I didn’t get you anything!”

“I don’t need anything. Just open ’em.”

He hesitated for a moment and then opened the first. It was a CD of Chopin’s nocturnes. He nodded and said, “Thanks. I like Chopin.”

“Yeah, so do I.”

“I know you do, because I’m the one that introduced you to him.”

You’re welcome, dad.

The second was also a CD. This one was “Cure for Pain” by Morphine.

He looked at me over his glasses and said, “Morphine? What the f— is this?”

“Just listen to it. You might like it.”

He stared at me for a moment longer and put the disc aside. “Alright. I’ll listen to it later.”

Then, the third gift. This one I had been saving since the previous spring; I was especially proud of it, and it was difficult to hold on to it for so long.

I’d gone to Drumcliff  on Daffodil Day and made a charcoal rubbing of the gravestone of  W. B. Yeats. Just his name. I then painstakingly wrote around the rubbing the final lines of “Under Ben Bulben”;

“Under bare Bulben’s head

In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.

An ancestor was rector there

Long years ago, a church stands near,

By the road, an ancient cross.

No marble, no conventional phrase;

On limestone quarried near the spot

By his command these words are cut;

Cast a cold eye

On life, on death.

Horseman, pass by!”

I put it in a frame. I thought he’d be delighted.

And  he was. When he saw the charcoal rubbing, he grinned from ear to ear; his eyes watered a little, and then he began reading the poem. He was silent for a while, and then said;

“Thank you. This is great. But you really need to work on your poetry.”

I couldn’t contain myself and started laughing.

“It’s Yeats, dad! ”

To his credit, he showed only a second of embarrassment before saying, “I know that, you sonofabitch! Yeats needed to work on his poetry, too!”

Too late for Yeats.

A couple of days later, he rang me up.

“You know, that Morphine album isn’t half bad; some of it reminds me of Leonard Cohen. There’s a poet for you.”

“Yeah, I like Leonard Cohen.”

“I know you do, because I introduced you to him.”

You’re welcome, dad.

And thank you.






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15 Responses to Gifts

  1. Lovely post.Very heartwarming 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. benmadigan says:

    It is a lovely post – how did it go with you dad as he got close to his final exitus?

    My own personal experience in his last week or so was by no means optimal!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. benmadigan says:

    PS “his last week or so” – refers to my dad not Oglach’s

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tripleclicka says:

    Loved this story. Very heartwarming.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. a moving story. the Yeats segment paints a picture of your father I can totally see.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mabel Kwong says:

    Lovely write up. The words flowed seamless, and I can relate to presents not being wrapped well. I’m guilty of that…it’s always the thought that counts 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with your Dad: Yeats needed to work on his poetry. On the other hand, U are a master of deeply felt and deeply moving prose. Thank U.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. emmylgant says:

    Yes. I will agree, very moving prose all in subtle touches.
    I am a fan now.

    Liked by 1 person

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