I see his jolly round face and his soft sweet
smile, and feel his regal and wise presence.
Mostly I remember his words infused
with a tenderness that flowed like a river
from the wellspring of his heart.
He believed in serious work, spoiling us –
me and Mike - with $2 bills for good report cards.
He was a mischievous old devil,
short-sheeting our beds and teasing us
with stories that made us sound like silly ducks.
But mostly he believed in the power of joy,
the power of fun and frolicking.
We play hide and seek for quarters
in his living room, and he sits on the floor
with us for a long game of monopoly.
Mostly what touches me is the tickling,
the way he would reach around
and put his big plump fingers gently in our sides,
and how we giggled and laughed and broke open
with big toothy smiles, our mouths open
like fish taking in water.