Father’s Day Reflections: The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

Lonnie JohnsonAs the sun rises on this beautiful Father’s Day, I reflect with fondness on my father, Lonnie Johnson, who passed away in 1996. As I have grown older and hopefully wiser, I have come to recognize my father’s undeniable influence. In my reverie, I thought of these lyrics: “The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.” At my father’s funeral I shared memories of my father and paid tribute to him with a poem that speaks of his enduring influence:

plainsong

for Lonnie Johnson

1922-1996

Your plainsong I know by heart,

a hymn stanza learned with ease,

lined out like the flow of chanted words,

syllables fused into a single sound:

I-love-the-Lord-He-heard-my-cry”

raised and repeated over countless Sunday mornings.

Your plainsong I continue to sing, expressed not in words

but in faithful deeds borne of a heart to serve.

Your rock-solid presence like a mantle clock keeping time

even beyond man’s three score years and ten.

Your plainsong resonates and flows through my being.

I sing with strength of character, integrity,

unconsciously humming refrains, improvising

common melodies with grace notes, making my own

your plainsong that will not let go of me.

I recall something that my father said on a number of occasions when he told me, “Son, I’m proud of you.” Every man since Adam has sensed a deep yearning to hear these words or some variation thereof from his father. On one specific occasion occurring around Father’s Day, my dad made a similar comment that inspired this poem

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

There was a time when I would stretch my mind,

Make a list and try to think of the perfect gift,

As we approached Father’s Day, the third Sunday in June.

Now let me see what will it be?

I know. . . a portable radio. . .

What about a shirt—extra large—to fit?

Pajamas, house shoes, another Dopp kit?

Each year I would really try, as I resolved:

No more cologne—not another tie!

One year I ran out of ideas, and so I asked,

“Dad, what do you want for Father’s Day?”

He thought awhile and in his own quiet way,

He smiled and had this to say:

“Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Son, just keep me proud of you.”

Now when my daughters ask,

What can they get me for Father’s Day,

I fondly remember, and I smile and say,

“The words of your Grandpa are still true.

As he said to me, so I say to you:

‘Just between me and you,

Here’s what you can do.

Just keep me proud of you.

Girls, just keep me proud of you.”

I continue to thank God for my father and all that he contributed to my success in all areas of my life.

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4 Responses to “Father’s Day Reflections: The Perfect Father’s Day Gift”

  1. gc Says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful heart for Fathers’ Day. God bless you. Happy Fathers’ Day.

    • Dr. J Says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words and blessings extended for Father’s Day. They go right back to you on Father’s Day as well.

  2. Cheryl Thompson Williams Says:

    Awesome! We all are proud of you!!

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