The past couple of days we have been learning from the man many believe to have been our greatest U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln.

So many things fascinate me about Lincoln.  Near the top of the list was his commitment to being a reader.  He loved poetry and often memorized long passages.

One of his favorite poems was, The Last Leaf, penned by Oliver Wendell Holmes.  The poem, written just after 1830, is about Major Thomas Melville, grandfather of Herman Melville, who authored Moby Dick.

The poem has quickly become one of my favorites too.  It is about growing old and hanging on.  The line, “And if I should live to be The last leaf upon the tree In the spring,” is a picture of a leaf that never fell during the Autumn when all the other leaves fell.  The leaf shows up the following Spring ready to continue the journey of life, yet “clinging to the bough.” (the bough is the main branch of a tree).

It reminds me of my Dad who now at age 71 still has his wit and sense of humor, though his once athletic body shows the signs of his journey.

If you could sit on the front porch with my Dad, he would tell you to make the most of your opportunities to encourage others, to give generously to those in need, and to love and take care of your family sacrificially.  These are things I have watched him do my entire life.

So in honor of Lincoln, Holmes, and a great Dad, I leave you today with . . .

The Last Leaf by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground
With his cane.

They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
Cut him down,
Not a better man was found
By the Crier on his round
Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,
And he looks at all he meets
Sad and wan,
And he shakes his feeble head,
That it seems as if he said,
“They are gone!”

The mossy marbles rest
On the lips that he has prest
In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said–
Poor old lady, she is dead
Long ago–
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
In the snow;

But now his nose is thin,
And it rests upon his chin
Like a staff,
And a crook is in his back,
And a melancholy crack
In his laugh.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At him here;
But the old three-cornered hat,
And the breeches, and all that,
Are so queer!

And if I should live to be
The last leaf upon the tree
In the spring,
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
Where I cling.