June 3, 2011

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Paying tribute to loving fathers who are in heaven

Shirley Vogler MeisterJune is the month for Father’s Day. Each June, since the untimely death of my father in 1962, I have honored him even though he is not physically present.

This year is especially meaningful because of something that happened in my computer room not very long ago.

As I was cleaning off some crowded bookshelves and carrying books to another area, I was startled by a loud thud.

When I turned around, I found a large black book on the floor. After putting down the books in my arms, I reached for the book and saw it was The History of St. Clair County, Illinois, Volume 2.

“Where did that come from?” I wondered.

I could not recall seeing it before even though my husband and I are natives of St. Clair County, Ill.

So I took the heavy book to another location to flip through it, still wondering how it got on my bookshelf. Then I decided to read through the index for an answer.

In the index, I found my father’s name, Lester Vernon Vogler, and went to the proper page.

As I write this, I am experiencing the same chills that I felt when I found the page and saw my father’s photo.

Not only that, but as I began reading the text, I realized that I had written every word about him.

Finally, I also recalled a time when, before 1992 when the book was published, I had written the piece about Dad and submitted it to the St. Clair County Historical Society, whose staff gathered information for the book.

The article that I wrote accompanied my father’s photo, and shared much of his life after marrying my mother, Irene Rose Huber.

What struck me is that I also included a poem about him that I wrote years before. The poem tells about one of the many times when we lived in St. Louis that he took me to Forest Park.

I share this poem, “Park Promise,” now in prose form:

Father strolls, smoke dangling cloudlike from strong fingers.

I run, skip and twirl on the walk to Forest Park, where minnows dance ‘neath waterfalls.

Pond smells greet us and foam froths on the pool. Quietly, we watch the fish scurrying when playful pebbles disturb clouds buoyed upon the water-mirror.

Dragonflies dart as Dad cuts my angling twig, well-stringed and hookless: a fishing charade.

When I tired, we amble home.

“Traffic’s bad; take my hand.”

We inch across, I in silent fear midst screeching brakes and whirring wheels. A siren wails; a hospital looms near.

“If I am hit, will I go there?”

“You can’t be hit; you have my hand.”

Trusting, I clutch it still, though he is gone.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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