Song For My Father by
(22 Stories)

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It would be nightfall before we’d begin our journeys home from the South Shore. We’d take the expressway north, and as we neared the city my brothers and I would mute our antics in the back seat and start noting the exits. We knew that on occasion our father would deftly change course and steer us into the South End, to Dover Street. Our mother, not a big fan of these detours, would instruct us to lock our doors.

A lesson was learned on Dover Street

Dover Street was a kind of skid row then. To us it was strange and, truth to tell, a bit scary. But not to our dad. He would drive us respectfully past drunken, desolate men staggering singly in the darkness, past boarded-up buildings receding into black. Each time our hearts would skip a beat, we kids from the suburbs whose lives were worlds away.

When we had taken in the scene Dad would say gently, as we knew he would, I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet. The old maxim never failed to impress. Lesson received and renewed, we proceeded on our way.


Over the next twenty years our father would lose his feet and more to a relentless siege of diabetes. He bore his suffering with grace and good nature.

Such a dear gentleman my father was, so wise, so kind, so full of love for everyone. Looking back I realize that, this story notwithstanding, the most important things he told me were conveyed without words.







Profile photo of Susan Bennet Susan Bennet
I'm so happy to have joined the gracious Retro family. The basics:
I have a background in marketing and museums.
I come alive when the leaves turn red.
I regret every tech mistake I have made or will ever make on this site.
I want a dog.

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Thanx for this beautiful and well-written story Susan, the Dover Street details told so well, as your mother instructs you to lock the doors, and your wise father, teaching that moral lesson in the family car.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Thank you for introducing us to your kind, gentle, wise father. It is clear that he made a huge, lasting impression on you; all for the good. Diabetes was a relentless horrific disease in those days (I believe it is better managed today; my wonderful sister-in-law has been insulin-dependent for 35 years and is doing well).

  3. Marian says:

    Oh, boy, Susan, what an amazing man your father was, and how he conveyed the lessons he taught you lasted a lifetime. And how ironic that he would lose his feet and limbs, but react to life in general with gratitude. Thank you for sharing this portrait with us.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    What a touching story, and way for your dad to teach you about compassion for others. And how sad he lost his own limbs to diabetes. He lived his life as an example, which spoke louder than words. Thanks for sharing these lessons and memories.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your father. He was a wise man to show you that there were people who were suffering and in need of help.

    • Susan Bennet says:

      Thank you, Laurie. Dad was hospitalized for care at the end of his life, and we learned later that spent his days lightening the load for others. One of his nurses came to his wake, in tears. “Mr. X was such a wonderful man,” she said. Indeed.

  6. Suzy says:

    Wow, a meaningful and memorable lesson from your father. And you note the irony of his losing his feet to diabetes years later. Great story!

  7. A great story, Susan. I couldn’t agree more: the most important thing – character – is conveyed without words.

  8. John Shutkin says:

    What a lovely tribute to an obviously lovely man, Susan. And beautifully written, especially that last paragraph. But such a sad irony that your father’s wise maxim became such a sad and literal reality for him.

    I also love your Retro “basics!”

  9. Dave Ventre says:

    Powerful, moving, sad and uplifting together. Thank you!

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