A is for air force. It’s Captain Briggs in the jet. The toughest and proudest man that you’ve ever met.
B is for ball, “why can’t you catch?” Dad grumbled as I shaped my small hands for the next.
C is for cowboy hat, he wore one with pride. She knew when she met him that she’d be by his side.
D is for Dad, moustached you know. Salt and pepper hair and as tall as they grow.
E is for my Eagle award. I chose Mom as “Mentor.” Dad was mad since he helped, but had he been there before?
F is for fight; I did all the time with Mom. He’d say to me after, “forget about it, move on.”
G is for glass of lemonade, at the start of each day. It smelled something strong but he never would say.
H is for handshake, Slap slap, pound pound, bump, stick it, shoot. Every morning we’d shake before my school bus pursuit.
I is for ice hockey each Saturday with Mom. Then piano lessons, scouts, and swimming lessons till dawn.
J is for Dad’s joking, to lighten the mood. He’d purposefully wait till I had a mouthful of food.
K is for kite, which he flew with his son. Once wrangled by two adventurers, now only by one.
L is for love, remembered more through death. Mom speaks of the good times and forgets past distress.
M is for marriage, honeymoon after. From inside alone, she can hear his liquored laughter.
N is for never, did Mom let me see. Dad’s stumbles and mumbles kept hidden from me.
O is for on, the grass where Dad lay. He’d fallen over, after Mom turned me away.
P is for playing, croquet on the lawn. The chance to beat Dad is forever forgone.
Q is for quit, that’s what he’d done. Mom retired right after – they could finally have fun!
R is for relapse, hidden in a brown paper bag. Mom yelled and threatened, every night she would pray.
S is for sick. That’s when everything changed. Dad’s liver was failing with only himself to blame.
T is for teeth, grinding in pain. Our best efforts at comfort were helplessly in vain.
U is for unpleasant, how bleak he’d become. Panged by discomfort, growing bitter toward everyone.
V is for vodka, Dad’s favorite kind. With pity she brought it to bring peace for his mind.
W is for wondering, what would it be like without a dad? I pushed away the thoughts; too early, too sad.
X is for algebra; it’s what we’d solve for. Dad helped me every school night till our brains were sore.
Y is for “you”; “I’ll see you later,” I said. We shook hands one last time in Dad’s hospital bed.
Z is for Zach, the name that she chose. He nodded and smiled at the tiny fingers and toes.