If I Only….

So, I was only going post a poem a wrote for my dad on this post, however, while writing the opening for it, my memories got the best of me. I kept wondering why I felt the need to write a poem? And then it clicked. My dad loved writing poems, little rhyming verses, etc., for us growing up for special occasions. That then lead me to reminisce on some birthdays my sister and I had.  Welcome to how my mind works.

Growing up my Dad and Mom loved to make a big deal about our birthdays and accomplishments. It was never just a, “happy birthday” or “congratulations” and that was it. They both made it something special.  In the Volk household, there was the infamous “Birthday Week” that is celebrated by family. The rules are as follows; you decide when your birthday week starts, and it lasts for exactly 1 week. Also, if anyone is mean to you, your birthday week automatically starts over. It is amazing, only if it is your birthday though, quite annoying if not. You better believe that my dad milked it for all it’s worth. Some years it turned out he wanted a “Birthday Month” not a “Birthday Week”.

 My sister had it made with her birthday in summer. She was able to have pool parties, playing outside, and good weather. I specifically remember for her 13th birthday she had a “club” birthday party. Everyone invited over was out back on our patio dancing. My dad sat at the window inside being the “DJ” and took requests through the window. Now the requests were made via a piece of paper placed into a tissue box. And if we happened to have the tape or CD, he would play it. I specifically remember our neighbor requesting a song called “Macarena”, nobody knew what it is was, and that’s how long ago this was (sorry Megan).

My birthday falls exactly 2 weeks after Christmas, January 8th. Yes, also Elvis Presley’s birthday. My parties were limited in January since we lived in Maryland. I specifically remember my 9th birthday and the slogan my dad came up with for the invitations. I was going to have a slumber party, but not just a regular slumber party, we were going to make it like we were camping. My parent’s stapled sheets to the door frame so it was like our living room was a giant tent. We were also going to be roasting marshmallows in my fireplace. My parents had to get creative for the dreary winter birthdays. Anyway, the slogan I will remember forever, don’t ask me why, other than I thought I was cooler than cool with it, was, “Come Smell the Pine! Abby’s Turning Nine!” (get it, camping?). That was trademarked by my dad!

Now onto how  much my dad  loved to embarrass us. The back of our house in Hagerstown backed up to a busy road, Marsh Pike. For my sister’s and my 16th birthday, my parents hung a giant and I mean GIANT sign that said, “Megan’s sweet sixteen!” Or in my case “Abby’s sweet sixteen!”. Everyone in our town driving by would be able to see it. People in my school would talk about it and people would beep all the time. I loved it, especially because when they hung it up for Megan only because she was so embarrassed (that’s sisterly love for you).

For special occasions or special gifts, there was always something we would read or do to make sure we remember it. Whether it was short poem in a card or fun scavenger hunts for birthday presents or Christmas presents. Something I remember vividly was the poem my dad wrote for me for my high school graduation about my grandmother who had passed 5 months earlier.  I guess none of that comes as a surprise since I am on here writing for my father’s BLOG!

That leads me to the original piece I wrote for this post, but I went off on a tangent about birthdays. I decided to attempt a poem for my dad. It’s very simple, elementary school almost, but it is something I thought about over and over. I hope you enjoy it and it may even get you thinking about what you would do in that situation with a loved one.

 If I Only
 If I only had some time,
 I would have a chance to say,
 All the things I am feeling
 Since you went away.
 If I only had four minutes,
 I would listen to your voice very close.
 I would take in each word and sound,
 That’s what I’d want to do the most.
 If I only had three minutes,
 I’d take you straight home to your bed.
 You would be much more comfortable,
 A familiar place to rest your tired head.
 If I only had two minutes,
 I would beg you to stay with me forever.
 I wouldn’t want to upset you,
 but I don’t want to be without you, whatsoever.
 If I only had one minute,
 I would listen and feel your heart beating.
 I would beg for one more minute,
 As our time together would be fleeting.
 If I only had one second,
 I would say, “I love you” and kiss your hand.
 I would lay my head on your shoulder,
 Why this was happening, I would try to understand.
 Now I have no time.
 And there’s an empty space in my heart.
 I hope to see you again one day.
 And never again, would we be apart.
 I hope wherever you are,
 You are watching over me.
 I promise to make you proud,
 And be the best person I can be.
   -Abby Volk 2/16/21
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24 Responses to If I Only….

  1. Elaine says:

    What a blessing! I read twice! Photos add so much. I just lost my darling parents, too. Your Dad added so much to my feeling of connection to Pittsburgh…
    Very meaningful.
    I am moving back after retiring to CA. Missing “home”.
    Thank you for continuing your parents legacy this way.
    Keep sharing, it’s a real blessing to all and I’m sure it is to you and your family.

  2. Melissa Marks Ramsey says:

    Abby thank you for sharing times of your life!! Reading your words is like looking at old pictures!! Your poem was beautiful and we all can relate.

  3. Barbara Ruhe says:

    So beautiful. It meant so much to me because I lost my dear husband 6 weeks ago and I have a list of “if onlys” haunting me. You are a talented writer — don’t stop! And thanks for giving me the knowledge that I am not the only one.

  4. Lillian M. Kelly says:

    Abby, I just LOVED everything you wrote about!!! I just loved reading his blogs. He is definitely missed by many Duquesners. Take care and stay safe.

  5. Bob Chermonitz says:


    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Mike Korinko says:

    Jim, thank you, this was awesome!

    Sent from my iPad


  7. Bill Pilcher says:

    thank you so much came to know your dad as a fellow Duquesne hunky and what a wonderful tribute Bill Pilcher

  8. Elaine says:

    What a blessing! I read twice! Photos add so much. I just lost my darling parents, too. Your Dad added so much to my feeling of connection to Pittsburgh…
    Very meaningful.
    I am moving back after retiring to CA. Missing “home”.
    Thank you for continuing your parents legacy this way.
    Keep sharing, it’s a real blessing to all and I’m sure it is to you and your family.

  9. Joanne Schaum says:

    That was excellent! Your dad would be proud!


  10. Chuck Schwab says:

    Loved that poem, and reading all your posts.

  11. Pat Albrecht says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Debra Faust-Clancy says:

    Beautiful poem Abby. Your dad was one in a million. No wonder you miss him so much. He knew how to express love to his family very well, a skill that must be learned and hopefully passsed on. He was a good teacher! I’m so glad you were exposed to the loving kindness he expressed to you girls over the years. Now it is your turn, first by writing about it here on your Dad’s blog, and then by doing the same (continuing the tradition) for your own family when the time comes. Thank you for sharing a little piece of your happy childhood by sharing the pics, the slogans and the happy smiles exhibited by your family. He left quite a legacy. Warmest wishes to you.

  13. Merle Pastrick LInn says:

    First of all thank you for continuing your dad’s blog and thank you for the story of the birthdays. And the poem….I only got to the second verse before I began to cry. Like any one else whose father is in heaven, I miss my dad every single day and your poem is perfect. Thank you.

  14. bornyek says:

    Abby, I was afraid to your your beautiful poem for I did not think that I could read it. I did read it and I cried the whole way through. Sorry to say that modern medicine has nothing to do with health. GMOs and Chemtrails have all our food and drink poisoned. Learn as much as you can about plants, for they are our medicine. The leaves of the olive tree are miraculous. The Moringa tree is the most nutritious plant on the planet. You can start there. Amen. Hallelujah. …..and Thank you.

  15. Patricia Charney Bezak says:

    Beautiful , Thanks for sharing

  16. Mom says:

    To my precious, precious Abby. I want to thank you for writing these blogs for Dad. He is so proud of you, and me too. Love the pictures and hearing about what you remember. We always tried to make birthdays special for both our girls. Now, because of what you remember, I know we did make them special. Love you. Mom ❤️

  17. Tom Magdic says:

    Beautiful poem Abby thanks for Sharing

  18. Fred Fraikor says:

    Lovely poems, well written with love.]
    Can I get a copy of the photograph of the Duquesne blast furnaces you use for a background on your blog? I worked my way through college working as a laborer in that mill where my father was a machinist. I have featured the steel mill in my latest history novel “Irene’s Secret Diary: Love, Romance, War and an Atom Bomb,” with a setting in WWII in 1945. (Available on Amazon)

    • Barbara Ruhe says:

      Fred, I was a classmate of yours – DHS 1955. Can’t wait to order your book from Amazon. I love historical novels from the WWII era. I would like to hear from you.

  19. What a lovely, heartfelt tribute to your dad! I’m sure he’s proud of you every day.

  20. Margaret S Miles says:

    Your poem is beautiful and I can only imagine how much you miss your sparkling father. Even I miss his blogs about Duquesne.

  21. Megan Schuster says:

    That poem is perfect in every way. ❤️

    I love reading your posts. They make me happy (except when you acknowledge my age and make fun of me!)

  22. Raymond Isadore says:


    Get Outlook for Android


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