Gambler's Rose

1. Raised the son of a gambler,
Well, I was handed down my lessons:
Never get stuck
Too far ahead of your luck,
Don’t speak if you can leave folks guessing.

2. But what could turn my head around?
Was it fancy, was it fear?
In the space of a day
I’d heard all he could say,
And such demands that rang in my ear.

3. Then the gambler’s edge grew narrow
And I watched him lose the spark.
Soon it was not
Him calling his shot,
And years were spent in the dark.

On a day too weary to shine
We took you out to a place in the yard.
There was you with your kids
And me there with mine,
This was the day we could
Have a good time.


Was a week before Christmas
And an hour ‘til dawn,
I got the phone call,
You could not carry on.
What I expected
I did not understand,
They’d said, “Your daddy,
He’s a hell of a man.”

We stood assembled then
In childhood’s clothes.
Each took a flower
But no one got a rose.
The words that followed
I could never recall,
Just standing, asking,
Did I know you at all?

And with the sun too frozen to shine,
We said good-bye for the very last time.
There was nothing to hope for,
No need to run.
Under the snow did you
Feel the sun?

4. Now my daughter saw your picture
And I told her who it was.
Then she blew
A kiss to you,
For that’s the kind of thing she does.

5. But the oldest, he remembers
And talks about some funny thing you said.
And how you pulled
Him close to you,
And he stood there head to head.

6. And the other I will introduce,
Let me raise her on my shoulder.
Now if you could view
Her eyes up close,
And if you could only hold her.

7. By now we’ve heard the stories,
Seen the snapshots, turned the page.
We’ve had a candle lit
From the time you quit,
Now is there something that I ought to say?

8. We lost the time to trade places
But maybe you’d like to know,
What comes from the heart
Must be the hardest part,
And neither of us was any good at letting go.