Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Silly Poem for My Father

My father passed away three years ago, on September 22, 2005.

I had just started blogging in March of that year, but it was that moment in time when I first learned what an online community could be all about. Three years have passed, and some friendships have faded, but it is nice that I still interact with many of you who I first met during that chaotic period of my life.

It isn’t easy being friends with your father. It can be uncomfortable expressing love to another man. Like many fathers and sons, we expressed more through actions, rather than words.

Last month, I found this note I wrote to my father, stuck under the TV in my parents’ bedroom. It is probably one of the last notes I wrote to him, maybe even the last one. It is a far cry from great literature, but I think he would be greatly amused that I am publishing it, taking the words from my note — verbatim — and turning them into a poem. I’m not very good at writing emotional stuff about him, so you’re going to look between the empty spaces of the words.

Directions on How to Use the DVD Player
a poem for Arthur Kramer on the third anniversary of his passing
by Neil Kramer

Turn Cable Remote
ON.

ON TV REMOTE,
Turn TV/VIDEO button,
until TV screen says
VIDEO 3.

Go TO DVD PLAYER
Turn Power On
(BIG LEFT BUTTON)

Push OPEN button
PUT IT IN

PUSH AGAIN
CLOSED

Dad – You were always hopeless figuring out this DVD player. You hardly used it at all. I hope the DVD players in heaven are easier to use. I’m sure, in the better world, they rent “Lawrence of Arabia,” unedited.

42 Comments

  1. BIG LEFT BUTTON. Beautiful imagery. And the metaphor of PUSH AGAIN says so much about the human condition. Yes, you are an Important Poet.

  2. I just commemorated 17 years since my father’s passing just last week. September is always a tough month for me to get through, but I manage to plow on through because he taught me to be strong.

    Best wishes to you during this time.

  3. pure brilliance. perfect imagery. if only we could all write poetry like that!

  4. Awh Neil. I’m always having to help my dad with what he calls “machines” and it takes a while to figure out which one he’s talking about. I’m seeing him on Saturday and I will give him a big hug. Thanks for sharing and xxx.

  5. Turn the power on

    Good advice

  6. :o)

    Anniversaries are always difficult for me. I don’t have advice because I’m terrible at staying strong, but I’m sending hugs and good thoughts and I hope you’re hanging in there.

  7. Thanks for sharing this, even if it did make me tear up a bit.

    I think that even those of us who didn’t know him, know he was a good dad. After all, look at the son he raised.

    Keeping you in my thoughts today.

  8. That was beautiful. sniff

    I mean, the words you used, the emotion, it was just… just… so clear.

  9. Great way to remember him. My dad has notes like that all over the house for me mom. “But all I want to do is be able to watch the 11 o’clock news.”

  10. Anniversaries of the deaths of our loved ones are tough to go through and you, Neil, did it with wonderful grace and humor.

    My mom has a set of directions just like yours next to her TV and DVD player. I would bet that she and my stepfather never watch DVDs.

    Lawrence of Arabia does kick ass.

  11. They are difficult, these anniversaries, aren’t they?
    Don’t even get me started with the dvd player.

  12. That was awesome. And not in a sarcastic way. I mean the process of finding that, pausing, and enjambing it. That was awesome. If my son feels that much tenderness for me, that’s enough. And I’m still not being sarcastic, Neil. That was cool.

  13. I’m smiling. That was great. Blessings. – chris

  14. Blessings on you today Neil and on your father where ever he may be. Lovely poem.
    XOXO

  15. lost my dad too. i knew there was a tape somewhere of him drunk, impersonating Elvis, but i have never found it. i have always wanted to. how brilliant would that have been?

  16. Your father is smiling. Mostly because you don’t have to rent movie in heaven.

  17. Silly? Not! Thinks its a fitting tribute.

    BTW, I just had to go over to my parents to show them how they get the closed captioning OFF. Since my mom is hard of hearing, I don’t understand the logic in this.

  18. You’re a good son and for some reason that really brought a tear to my eye.

    But it’s probably PMS.

  19. Thinking of you and your dad.

  20. That is so sweet. Brilliant, really–making your instruction note into a poem! I’m so sorry about your dad.

  21. This post is really touching. Maybe we should give more than instructions to our loved ones. Or maybe that’s just life.

  22. Very nice. I bet your dad got a chuckle after he read your blog in heaven.

  23. I wish I had given my own father such wonderful love notes.

  24. Mom is 83 and she would LOVE to be up with the times..she’s not. She wanted a computer so I picked out a lap top that was on sale over labor day..
    Everytime I leave she forgets what to do..sorry to hijack your comment section but I had to share..this is what I wrote to her..in a font size of 16 or so:
    Open Computer

    Push button on the top of keyboard to turn on

    Under Pat type TXXXP in the box. You will see dots.

    Click..or hit enter

    One the screen you will see a box that says Internet Explorer, double click.

    On the right side of the screen you will see Hi Pat! And a mail option.

    Click on Mail

    You can hit the M button for your inbox to open.

    If you see an email from (for example) Wendy. You can click on Wendy’s name and it will open the email. You can read the email.

    If you would like to write something back to them you click REPLY

    You should be able to just start typing. When you are finished typing hit the SEND button.

    Hit M to go back to your inbox and move to the next email.

    If there is one in your inbox that you have already read you can hit DELETE so it leaves your inbox.

  25. Neil, it’s wonderful that you’ve never lost your humor — from that difficult time in your life until today. That definitely adds to your charm and endearing personality.

    I love your “poem” and I also like this comment by PsychoMom:

    “You’re a good son and for some reason that really brought a tear to my eye.

    But it’s probably PMS.”

    Neil, it sounds like the makings of a poem to me! (I think you should make many of your readers’ comments into poems, come to think of it.)

  26. This made me tear up and dread the day when my own dad passes. And somehow miss his dad, who died when I was small. They shared a love of techno toys and frustration with learning to use them.

  27. It will have been three years for me this coming February. The pain . . .

  28. This is very sweet.

    Reminds me of how every year I express my love for my father on Father’s Day by asking him whether he’s had his prostate examined.

  29. Brilliant. I know how hard such anniversaries can be. You ARE a good son!

  30. You are a good son, Neil. Blessings to you and your family.

  31. very sweet, progress yes?

    i started my blog in april of 2005, my dad passed feb of 2006.

    perhaps the starting of the blog and the passing of people we love is no coincidence?

  32. It’s so sweet, it shows a lot of patience and love. I hope you’re remembering loving times with your dad.

  33. What is it with our parents that makes it nigh on impossible to express deep feelings in a straightforward way? Only today I posted a note very similar to your poem to my dad, along with a CD. Instead of saying I love you, it was bumph about how the CD was bought in Paris and went with me around Europe before being mailed from the US.

  34. Hey, you.

    Sometimes what falls into the empty spaces says everything.

    (A day late, but sending warm thoughts.)

  35. This was SO my Dad. He couldn’t operate the TV/DVD player to save his life. He passed away last November.

  36. Sometimes, that is a touching as it gets. Helping them in their older age as they helped you in your younger age. It really is all about the small things that you can pinpoint and later identify as a moment of happiness or laughter. Sorry for your loss.

  37. I love that, Neil. I just read a book about fathers and sons and how hard it is to talk about love in a language they’re comfortable with- it’s called “Season of Life”, by Jeffrey Marx. Cool book. Has football, too.:)

    But I don’t think you need a book, because that note is love spot-on.

  38. Hi Neil, Just found your blog and I loved this post. My Dad had notes like this for using the computer. He always got frustrated that there were so many ways to do the same thing. He wanted a list that was 1 2 3 4, etc. Not, 1 2or2 then 3or3orskipto4…. I lost my Dad in ’03. I hope heaven has golf, fishing, beer, and 1 2 3 computers. Easy DVD players too.

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