Just the other day, my brother sent me a rare picture of my dad in 1935, when he had just turned nine.
There aren’t too many pictures of you, dad,
and maybe that’s because you were one of the youngest of five kids—
The youngest often becoming the step children of family albums
when parents have become blasé with child rearing
and weary of pulling out their cameras.
You look younger than nine,
but maybe that was because it was still an age of innocence:
five years before Hitler’s tanks would roll across the Dutch border
and violate that shoddy promise of neutrality…
1935 was a cold winter in the Netherlands
or so I verify online.
Where was this taken? In your parents’ garden?
Or after you had been throwing snowballs
at your older brothers in the Dutch dunes near Overveen…
It seems like you were interrupted, with snow still clinging
to your tightly buttoned-up and stylish coat.
As if you were called to attention to pose for this picture
on your ninth birthday.
The expression on your face is priceless.
Poised and with a certain swagger–
a self-confidence that you seem to share
with my now 19-year-old son.
Your cap doesn’t seem to offer much warmth
and I love that cowlick that seems like a hairpiece that was glued on.
Your face is pale, something you hated, you told me once—
Together with the story that you had tried to use sandpaper
when little, to bring back some color to your face.
Oh dad, I wish we could revel in the rare find of this precious picture
but you’re gone and with your death
Too many things have been left unsaid…
You were a quiet but a loving man with a wicked sense of humor.
I inherited your love of books, reading and art
And wish we could have shared that passion more…
But you were distant, quiet, yet supportive,
allowing me to go to school in the UK and the US
and always asking me if I needed money, pulling out your wallet
to underscore your generosity when I walked out the door.
I miss you, dad, and wish I had told you more often
How appreciative I have been of your unconditional love
Which I’ve felt deeply and hope to hand on to my kids
So they can give it to theirs.
Your boyhood face and flair captured by this picture
that emerged 80 years after it was taken
is a gift you maybe set in motion
from wherever you are…
Seeing that picture after you’ve been gone
for almost ten years now
established a contact and connection with you
that warmed my heart and lit up my soul.
For a split second you had not died at all
but you were that cocky kid again,
cold, composed and ready for the world
And the world you made for me.
I love you, dad.
And I love that little boy…
My dad, my little lord Fauntleroy…