Saturday, February 10, 2007

In The Back Seat

Certain memories from one's childhood linger in one's mind. They can often take on extra resonance when one compares them with things which occurred later on in one's life. This poem describes such a memory from my own childhood.

In The Back Seat
© by Mark Pettigrew

In the back seat of my father’s old Ford,
I slept like a sailor at sea.
Knowing that I would be safe and secure,
for my mom and my dad cared for me.

Every Wednesday we’d come home from church,
after choir practice ended that night.
When we got home, carried straight to my bed,
I was certain that things were alright.

Oh, how I miss those days of my youth,
when my parents still loved one another.
Awful divorce; how I hate the vile word!
How it injured both me and my brother!

Long have I thought of those days of my youth.
Long have I wished they’d return.
Keep your commitments to people you love,
for love is not something to spurn.


When my father would drive us home from weekly choir practices (at Oakland United Methodist Church), it was a long drive, so I would often lie down in the back seat and fall asleep. But I was seldom completely asleep. Usually, it was more like a groggy state halfway between fully asleep and being awake. I knew the twists and turns in the road by feel. When the car would shift in a certain way, I could tell instinctively that we were almost home, without having to sit up and look out the window. After pulling into the driveway, my dad would pick me up in his arms and carry me to my bed.

When I think of that time, it reminds me of how much I relied on my parents, and how much I trusted them. That kind of trust is a precious thing, and it should not be violated.

Regarding the line which says, "Long have I wished they'd return", it's pretty clear that those days will never return. My father passed away in 1999, and it had already been apparent for quite a number of years prior to his passing that our family would never be restored to what it once had been.

Nevertheless, when I wrote that line, I was trying to capture the feeling that I had, for a very long time after the divorce, that something precious had been lost when my father committed adultery, leading my mother to file for divorce. Even though I knew it was unlikely, I still hoped that my father would humble himself, repent of the things he'd done to hurt our family and reunite with my mother so that our family could be whole again.


To download additional Christ-centered poems I've written (stored online in the form of PDF files which can be downloaded from a public SkyDrive folder), visit this link, then select the poem in which you have an interest, and then click the Download button.

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