I have many quotes I adore. Some poignant, others not so – like Lewis Carroll’s gibberish poem Jabberwocky – “Twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe..” But one stanza of a certain poem sticks with me. My Dad is 88 years old. He was born in “nineteen hundred and twenty two,” as he says, in his Boston accent. His memory is still keen. And although day to day he might forget something (don’t we all) he recalls dozens of poems learned as a boy in school. Longfellow’s “The Day is Done” is one of his favorites. And I know that one day in the future (distant or near) my sister or brother or I will recite it at his funeral. That will be a sad but fine tribute to a good father.
As a mother who struggles with the reality of having children with autism, whom one day I will have to leave behind in a world that may or may not care for them properly, this stanza has a sharper meaning. In fact, for me, it’s really a prayer. Sure, I’m a Catholic and I have all the “proper” prayers at my disposal. But this stanza speaks to the yearning ache and daily hope for treatment, recovery, cure I feel every day when I look at my girls, and wonder how, how on earth (or in heaven), can I ever leave them? It speaks to a time of hope when I will not have to worry, and I love that.
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
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