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John Edwards

I was just the Old Man. Simply that.
It was as if I did not have a name.
“John!”I wanted to shout.
“My name is John Edwards.”
But, I remained the Old Man.

I am not sure of when I lost my identity
But it was back somewhere in the past.
My contributions as the Old Man were small;
Fetching the water, working in the garden,
And keeping the old stove fed with firewood.
I knew they could do well without me,
So most of the time I stayed out of their way,
And no one seemed to miss me.

But, my friend and I, spent many hours together
Sitting in the sun in an old wicker chair.
It was good to have a friend, even though it was
Just a featherless pet chicken who loved to sit on my lap.

They didn’t understand about the chicken.
We talked a lot, he and I.
He was very receptive to my stories of hard farm life.
Of my triumphs and defeats, hopes and dreams.
He listened, and he often answered with faint sounds.

I know we were an unlikely pair but we found comfort
In our mutual need for one another.
And so I spent the summer, dozing in the warm sun,
Chicken on my lap.
At dusk, the chicken crawled inside my shirt for warmth.
In the fall, I made him a felt jacket, but he caught a cold,
And soon died, in spite of my efforts to save him.

It was only I who wept. Wept for the loss of a friend.
Wept for the loss of being needed.
“The Old Man is crying about that fool chicken,”they’d say.
They didn’t understand about the importance of being needed.

In mid-winter, I passed away, feeling alone and useless.
They wept tears I would not see and uttered words I would not hear.

My epitaph reads –
John Edwards – Our friend
We needed him

8/8/96 Phyllis DeWitt-VanVleck

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