August 17, 2019
“I said to Michael, Jr, last night, ‘let’s go cruising.’” This is the opening sentence of the email my daughter-in-law Tiffany Haggard Fink sent Thursday morning. It’s a wonderful email celebrating the love she and her brother Michael have for their father, Michael C. Haggard, Sr., who passed away Sunday, August 11. His memorial service was Wednesday, August 14. Mike loved street rods, muscle cars—the faster and louder the better. He also loved the blues, that music in the growl of a V8 engine at a stop sign, a long stretch of blacktop road.
As I read Tiffany’s email, I was once again reminded of what I have told Tiffany many times: she is a poet. The poem “Cruising” rose up from the scenes in her email. All I did was line-out her sentences: their imagery, vivid details, rhythms, complex emotion, her celebration of family in all its Truth and Beauty.
So, I wanted to share her poem with you.
Tiffany Haggard Fink
Michael C. Haggard, Sr.
October 13, 1942–August 11, 2019
Strapped into the ‘84 Monte Carlo,
I put the hammer down hard—no cares how fast—
letting loose on a stretch of open highway, surreal
flying down I-820, a nearly-full moon overhead,
the four us together one more time,
back when Neta’s gentle love
kept Mike’s feet on the ground a bit,
back when we went everywhere together,
reaching back to a place where there was still
a little love tucked away, and I pulled it forward
into that cockpit, reached over and tapped
Baby Brother on the arm, deposited his portion
of that love on his sleeve. I felt like a kid
for a brief moment, sitting next to Dad,
taking my turn in the jet boat on the Brazos River
when we would “blow out the cobwebs”—
as if Mike ever let any cobwebs settle
in those engines. What is it about death
that brings new life? I grieve that the life cannot
come before the death. It’s a fallen world,
so maybe that’s the reason. Or maybe
when your heart breaks, God sends love
like a soft rain, the sound of a hotrod,
the hug of a Baby Brother.