Don’t Thank Me

Those Winter Sundays | Poet Robert Hayden
In the first stanza of Robert Hayden’s poem, “Those Winter Sundays,” the son/narrator describes the ritual of his father on a cold, Sunday morning:

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

While in bed last night, thinking of what to write about for my Thirty Days of Thanks blog post, I immediately thought of my own father and his rituals. Those humid weekday mornings in Houston, where he manicured lawns with weed whackers, tamed the electric snarl of table saws, drowned wasp nests with slithering water hoses. He worked nights but never rested when he got home. He would stay dressed in his cracked maintenance uniform, his fingers stained with grease, his thinning hair sitting heavy on his head. He would find work to do, he would move through the house like a bear blustering with hunger before heading to bed and his snoring collapsed walls.

I would sometimes watch him and wonder why he needed to work so hard, needed to work all the time. Like in “Those Winter Sundays” no one ever thanked him. I don’t think he ever expected us to. But I watched him always, learning from the serenade of his hands, memorizing the callous melody of hard work. It is because of him I now work with a company that I love, work with coworkers and clients that I respect and that respect me. It was a long road to get here but I never quit, I kept pushing and earning my way.

I know that one day I will have my own family that won’t thank me either. Who won’t know of “love’s austere and lonely offices” and that’s fine. I think my father would prefer it that way and honestly, I do too.

13 Replies to “Don’t Thank Me”

  1. Thank you, April. I'm glad that I was able to contribute and thanks for letting me share.

  2. thanks, jonti. i'm glad that you enjoyed it and it brought some nice memories for you. it's always nice to slow down and things about those things. it's easy to forget and get lost in the hum of our computers.

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