“What Once Was” is a poem that I wrote for my wife about the relationship she had with her father growing up. My wife and all her siblings had to endure a father who was verbally and physically abusive to his children and spouse. They each had to witness the abuse that the other sibling and/or siblings were going through as it was taking place. This left an emotional scar that needed to be mended. By the grace of God, many years later her father gave his life to the Lord and became a completely different man. He passed away the day after Christmas in 2018 and went home to be with Jesus. I wrote a poem to read at her father’s memorial about the relationship I had with him myself while my wife and I were taking care of him during his last days. That poem is called “A Special Friend,” which I’ve included in this list of poems.
I ask you dad to listen, to what I have to say
I need to make you understand, before your dying day.
You need to know I’m angry, for the childhood I had
and the things I had to witness when you were drunk or mad.
You need to know the damage, it caused inside my head
and the pain I’ll have to live with if things are left unsaid.
I realize that I’m all grown up, and I don’t sit on your knee
and I’ll never forget the good times because they mean a lot to me.
For when I was your princess, we had a special bond
you gave me your attention, and all my fears were gone.
And when you held me in your arms, you chased away my blues
that special love you gave me dad, I never thought I’d lose.
Now years have passed those times away, and age is taking a toll
where degrading women and being rude, is all you seem to know.
Please help me, dad, I ask you, and I promise not to cry
please throw away your heart of stone, before I say goodbye.
For if you don’t I’ll bear the pain, as hard as it may be
and growing old with you dad,
will only be a dream.
By Dale Coolbaugh