What If My Dad

What if my Dad
Had quit pushing before
I had quit pushing back?

What if he had tired of me
Refusing to swing the bat
Because I was afraid of striking out?

What if he had given up the cause
Even one “Just try it!”
Before I finally did?

Then I’d have never tipped that ball in practice that day,
Nor hit that first hit in the game a few minutes later.
Nor the stand-up triple with the RBI.

Dad knew it was worth it.
He knew that the value of success
Exceeds the risk of embarrassment.

So he kept pushing.
Daring that fine line between
Pushing me and breaking me.

At first, I was senseless to everything but the fear of striking out.
Then he countered the fear with his equally troubling coaxing.
And that’s all there was.

So I swang.

Dad couldn’t have known it,
but what was for him just another afternoon of being a dad
Would turn into a major life theme for me.

And all these years hence,
Here I sit, daring the line
Between pushing and breaking
Some charges of my own.

Well, Dad’s gone now, of course.

But not in this way.

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