Father’s Treasure

The second child of Skipper Bill
raised in that old three-storey home down by the stage
that joined on to the one where his
grand dad’s children were all born and raised.
No fisher boy was he, no life at sea
he was off to school in faraway St. John’s.
Perhaps the clergy had its eyes on him at Memorial
after finishing at Normal School and St. Bon’s.

Too young to serve in the great war
and too old when that peace started to unravel.
And that cleric’s life some thought was for him
was not the path in life he ever wanted to travel
His service to his country would be set on peace, growth
and service to the community.
For a generation and a half knew Mr. Barry
as school master in a small school by the sea.


For five years Boston became his home
working for Western Electric making radios they said.
While back at home, his dad, Skipper Bill he fished the cape
in a two master western boat, always out to keep the family fed.
But from time to time St. Pierre to Boston
runs were made, Barry’s were nobody’s fools.
And that extra money was found …somewhere…
to send brothers and sisters away from home, just like him, to school.

But aside from that, for 48 years
the teacher’s life was painted by dedication.
So many grades, an impossible load, so little support
but devoted to the pursuit of education.
Lawn, Mount Carmel, Corner Brook but mostly
in that two room school on his beloved old Red Island home.
From dawn till disk doing what he must no matter what
if asked his did what was needed for the students and families in his town.

Later on two more calls: grad school then
a longing for family to complete his home.
A pretty Irish girl—they found each other
and soon they had two children of their own.
The name ‘Daddy’ was the one he loved the most
but we could always feel the old teacher’s gentle touch.
The two parts we know he gave us too
and became a part of the son and daughter he loved so much


He left us 29 years ago
and there hasn’t been a single day
that thoughts of Dad and Teacher
haven’t crossed my mind, at work, home or play.
The gifts he gave through a life well lived
marked with duty and love; a legacy of learning and service to his home
passed on to me, and my family,
the pain of loss is gone,
the treasure carried on, and more value to me than anything I can ever own.

So pack up your old book bag now
and turn the oil lamp; off one last look around
Turn on the flashlight, lock the school door,
head for home down the path along that holy ground.
Someone’s waiting patiently
supper’s on and kettle’s at the boil
And a spell of rest awaits for the old
schoolmaster maybe just for a little while.

Happy birthday ‘fadder.’


About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
This entry was posted in poetry/songs, Society and Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Father’s Treasure

  1. Paddy Barry says:

    Beautiful story of a wonderful man

  2. James Murphy says:

    Maurice, this is incredible work and such a touching dedication! Very nicely done!!!

  3. Jane Fritz says:

    Perfect! He must have been very proud of you, following in his footsteps. Maurice, you’ve just stepped out of quadrant IV! 😉

    • Writing it is my idea of Quadrant IV because I redefine ‘important.’ Sort of like taking the thing to another dimension — important to my work or my personal life. I know, I’m babbling…

  4. Mary says:

    A fine tribute. Happy Birthday to our father

  5. Wonderfully touching tribute to your father!

  6. Rosalind Pinsent says:

    So beautiful, Maurice ! I love to see people honoured and this tribute to your precious Father does just that!

  7. jennypellett says:

    The legacy they leave… as we get older I think we appreciate them even more in ways that never once we would have imagined. What a lovely tribute to your Dad.

  8. Nicely done. Although I’ve only got the small Hovercard photo to go by, the resemblance is uncanny … Mendel would not be surprised. Furthermore, from following this blog, I am absolutely sure that your Dad would be full of pride at your many, and continuing, accomplishments. Back to Mendel – there must be an ‘education-gene’ somewhere which is highly expressive in the Barry family. D

    • Thanks! I have few regrets in life but it makes me a bit sad to think that he passed away just as I was starting out. He gave me so much and I was just getting to know the person he was. You’re right, though and I do believe there’s a big part of what made him “him” working inside of me. Thanks again. Oh, and by the way, your puzzle is driving me nuts :>)

  9. Josephine Barry says:

    As I read this tribute this morning there was a few tears I admit. I was very blessed to have known Mr.Barry as he was known to many .Some of my first memories of him were the very kind white haired man that always sat in that certain seat at church .. and a funny memory…oh know that’s Mr.Barry driving out the road ahead of us we will never get home ..lol Looking back it’s not that he drove so slow but he was cautious and I guess when you get your drivers license at the age of about seventy you would be cautious also.I remember meeting him later as Maurice’s girlfriend he always called me Josie as that was his sisters name.I think he may have approved of me because he thought very highly of my mom.She was one of the teacher who thought for him on the Island . He proved time and time again you are never to old to learn. This traits have certainly been pasted on in his children and grandchildren .I’m sure they are both looking down with pride.Your dads love of teacher and thirst for continuous knowledge has certainly been past along to you my sweet husband. A tribute to be proud of 🙂 Love Josephine

  10. Cathy says:

    Hello Maurice
    what a lovely tribute, written with love for a man you obviously admired and loved dearly. Thank you for giving us an insight into your father’s life. Will you raise a glass to his memory?
    Take care

  11. johnlmalone says:

    Hi Maurice

    I’m so glad I visited your blog. As a poet I appreciate the care and craft you’ve put into this lovely poem: an Ode to your dad. The warmth and love shine right through. He would have been very proud to have read this. He sounds like a wonderful teacher and father. I really enjoyed this. Thank you

  12. johnlmalone says:

    a simple, humble life, honourably celebrated

  13. mary says:

    Just finally getting time to read this properly again – he would be so pleased with you’re creating this to celebrate his life .

  14. Beautiful tribute Maurice!

  15. phoenixttr says:

    That was very beautiful!

  16. Beautiful tribute you have a unique style to your writing, enjoyed the read very much.

  17. Mjollnir says:

    Lovely tribute Maurice. 🙂

  18. andybarry says:

    nice tribute to your dad…..Mr Barry as we knew him…your dad,s memory still lives on in red island …

  19. I thought this was sad. I know it’s not meant to be. so maybe wistful or poignant are better words.

  20. TamrahJo says:

    “The name ‘Daddy’ was the one he loved the most”
    Can’t ask for anything better!

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