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Sunday, 9 September 2007

September 9

My father, who is seen seated here in the corner of my family home where the poetry books are kept, with a young friend of our family, died a year ago today.

I pause to think of him today, in all his anguished complexity - a shy, sensitive and clever young man born into a working-class Irish-Canadian family with no history of education, who went on to be the Director of Admissions of two (ultimately merged) universities, for more than thirty years. During his time at Concordia, he was widely known, and loved, for his compassionate interest in students and their concerns. My father, who remains the standard by which I compare kindness and generosity, would literally do anything for someone, if he thought they needed assistance. The world as it is, with its indifference, and cruelty, pained him much. It is one of life's near-inevitably cruel ironies, then, that his death was a slow one, and dehumanising, in that he died in hospital, being poorly-cared for, of a very terrible form of brain cancer. I spent last August with him in hospital, sleeping by his bed most nights, and I consider it the best-spent, and most dreadful, of times.

Love poetry is often thought less of than other kinds of poetry. But the soul of the person not aflame with love is a husk for burning away.

Dear father, I think of you now, as always, and will do my best to continue the work you have done, to help and guide others, often lost or unfortunate, as best I am able, even in the most difficult of times.
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