Dark, scruffy beard,
hair wildly combed.
Faded blue jeans pulled tight
over a wooden leg…
walks with a limp
on the left side.
Pearly white teeth form a smile
hiding breath heavy with coffee.
Big, calloused hands with
mechanic’s grease under the nails.
Large, tan figure of a very brave man.
Now the beard is gone and
not much hair to comb.
A wheelchair replaces the limp.
His leg sits alone, replaced by a
long, red robe.
A frown hides the pearly whites
and breath is very short.
The big, frail hands have been
Worn out, pale figure of
a brave man.
Norman and my father were childhood friends. Throughout their lives, they were there for one another and they fostered a friendship that continued in their adult lives. Many memories of my childhood include Norman and his two sons, Kenny and Dennis. They were more than friends, they were family. They are family. As a young man, Norman lost a leg in an unfortunate accident and walked with a wooden leg for the rest of his life. Later in life, Norman developed diabetes and some other health complications. I wrote this poem about Norman after the last time I saw him in May of 1985. He had become very ill, but was still fighting…just as he had always done in his life. To this day, I still remember his last words to me. They were positive and life affirming, even though he was nearing the end. Norman was a big part of my life and he often pops into my thoughts. When he does, I always smile. And still I remain.
© 1985 Mizushima Blues
© 2019 Gregory Vessar. All Rights Reserved.