The man in the old family photo,
the mystery one with the mo,
never around for our Christmas,
someone I just didn't know.
Mom wore a painful expression
whenever I mentioned his name.
Dad changed the subject completely;
I knew it was something of shame.
It was Papa who told me the story
when I badgered him loudly one day.
There were tears in his eyes as he spoke it;
each sentence was painful to say.
“That man there is Silas, your uncle,
your mother's young brother he is.
He once was the life of the party;
a prosperous future was his.
Smart, and a scholar was Silas.
He sailed through his school days with ease,
quite the best in exams and assignments,
so charming and eager to please.
But our mischievous fun-loving Silas
was hanging around with a crowd
of shady and selfish intention,
behaviour unruly and loud.
He left all his studies behind him
to work down at Latimers' store.
Study and reading, he told me,
were nothing at all but a bore.
He was nabbed one day in the precinct
when a bank had been robbed by a gang
and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Some people, though, thought he should hang.
So he did all those years down in Southby.
I would visit him all that I could,
till at last at the end of his sentence
he promised to make his life good.
On the very first day of his freedom
he stole someone's car for a lark.
He was tried once again and found guilty
So they jailed him again. Things were dark.
Now your uncle is down in the prison.
Your mother will not speak his name.
Your father refuses to know him.
Our family's been tarnished by shame.”
“Is he the black sheep of the family?”
I ventured to ask of Papa.
With his hand on my shoulder he whispered,
'He's my son, and he are what he are.
Though he done what he done, and it's awful,
he still is my own precious son.
I love him and pray for him daily:
that God's perfect will will be done.'
So I stared at the old family photo
of Silas with Mom and the rest.
“Please bring this sheep back to our family,
dear Lord who works things for the best.”
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