Awhile back, I wrote an article that included the poem “The Bridge Builder,” by Will Allen Dromgoole. I discovered this poem in my father’s briefcase after he passed away. I sent it to him in 1985 for his birthday, and he always kept it with him.
It was one of my favorites, and I guess it became one of his, too.
I love reading poems and also will write a few from time to time. When I was courting Jennifer, I occasionally would write a poem for her. I probably should do that more often.
When I was in college, my sister and I would write and mail poems to each other. Most of them were silly, a few were more serious, but all were amusing. I’ve also written poems for my parents and my children, although it has been a while since I have written a poem to anyone.
Most of my father’s family and relatives were living up north when he died. Subsequently, few could attend his funeral, which was held in Florida. Mom wanted to be sure to include them in his service, so we held an additional service of remembrance the following year in Pennsylvania.
I remember the day well. I read “The Bridge Builder” during the first part of the ceremony and later read a poem that I wrote the night prior as a tribute to my father. I lost the written version of this poem almost as soon as I wrote it, and only by chance came across it a few years ago on a recording the minister made during the service on that cold, damp day at the New Goshenhoppen United Church of Christ.
Dad was a kind, gentle and unselfish person — almost to a fault — and yet our family never was for want. We had all we ever really needed.
The poem is titled “The Unselfish Man:”
“His family gives him his greatest pleasures. Simple things in life are what he most treasures. His love has no boundaries, impossible to measure. He is the Unselfish Man.
“He is honest, sincere, always extending a hand. Never in the wake of an idea would he stand. For he knows the importance of failure turned into success, and that winning does not mean conquer, but rather doing your best.
“An ear to listen and a watchful eye, with words of encouragement that would make me try. And if all was not well, or a challenge at hand, to him I could draw near, by his side I could stand.
“He gives his life for others, so they may say ‘I can.’ But accepts no reward, he is the Unselfish Man.” — November 12, 1995
On a shelf in my daughter’s bedroom is an angel with the inscription, “Make your actions inspire others.” Dad really would have liked that angel.
DeLong is the executive director of The Suites at Station Exchange. Call him 912-531-7867 or go to www.thesuitesatstationexchange.com.