Knowing Joan

After forty-seven years of marriage I was still learning about Joan. My daughters, loving her as a mother, knew her in ways that I didn't. Her sisters knew her in sisterly ways. Joan did not announce herself. None of us knew all there was to know about Joan.

A few months ago, her sister Ruth showed me some illustrated rhymes that Joan had written when she was eighteen or nineteen. I had never seen them. Reading them for the first time, I caught glimpses of the girl I met in 1950 even as I realized that I barely knew her when we married.

I've copied two of them below. They surprise me, puzzle me some. I picture her writing them with tongue in cheek, smiling as she writes. But I'm not sure if I'm right.


When you answered the smile of that little girl And knew she had lost her way, Did you guide her back to a safer path Or help her to farther stray?

Did you tell her that life was a cruel road And painfully short at best? And maybe she paused while you told your lies With carefully put on zest?

When you left her alone to go farther down A poor disillusioned kid, Did you wander back to your leering friends And brag of your deeds? You did?

Yes, it's easy to smile at the wayward girl Whose wings are all frayed and torn... How much better to give her a helping hand And gaze on a soul reborn!



Girls take care, lest You lead a trusting man astray.

From the protection of his mother's apron strings Take him not away.

Think first if it's fair To selfishly grab a young man Away from a loving mother's care.

Do you think before you smile At any young man you see, Of the helpless, trusting innocent Thing he may be?

The bar side conversation:

"She wouldn't even fry me any pork chops at 12 midnight. Said it was too late."

"Ya, dats too bad. Have another beer."


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