Christine Schmaal

AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN

The tears welled up in my eyes
As he shook my hand goodbye
I got all choked up
And I couldn’t reason why
I’d just met the most extraordinary of men
He was ninety-five years old and his name was Wren

He said when he was thirty-five years old
He stood strong and tall and bold.
He went to Borneo and New Guinea to the war
And the memories that he tells of would shock you more
Said he lost two of his best mates
And it hurt so much to see those empty bunks and plates
They were young, shot down, dead, and gone
He misses them but it takes time to mourn
He simply says, “That’s what happens in a war.”
But you know those times effected him to the core.
He fondly remembers one, six-foot and strong
Who, for fun, would wrestle him hard and long.
He could’ve hurt me real bad, but he didn’t
He was an Aussie who was fair, and just wouldn’t;
A fine young man, and now he is a memory…
Wren talked for ages, telling us his story.

The wisdom of that man and his memories
Just staggered my mind and my thoughts.
And as tears welled up inside of me
He shook my hand to say goodbye
I got all choked up inside
And I couldn’t reason why.
‘Cause I’d just met the most extraordinary of men
He was ninety-five not out, and his name was Wren.

A farmer at Coonalpyn, he was by trade
He had worked the same virgin land until he had it made
Living a hard but simple life
The only thing he didn’t share it with, was a wife.
He had a big ginger, well-fed cat
His companion, faithful friend, and all of that
Said he got it as a tiny, tiny kitten
And he loved having it around, and both were smitten.
But animals like horses, were also his interest
Of breeding and racing with some of the best
Portraits of winners adorned his fireplace
And his eyes lit up as he spoke of the race.

As tears welled up inside of me
He shook my hand to say goodbye
I got all choked up inside
And I couldn’t reason why
‘Cause I had just met the most extraordinary of men
He was ninety-five not out, and his name was Wren

Now I have heard that Wren has passed on
And I hope that your memory of him will not be gone
For he was one of life’s own treasures
And men like him should be bread in full measures
So let us not forget out friend, Wren
For he was one of life’s most extraordinary men.

And tears welled up in my eyes
As I now, to him, say goodbye
And I get all choked up inside
But now I know the reason why:
Because I had the pleasure of meeting
The fellow you love called Wren.
Now God rest his soul forever – Amen

Author’s Note: A Tribute to Wren Jacobs of Coonalpyn, South Australia: October 5 1907 – February 5, 2003.

This poem was written after meeting Wren Jacobs when my father, Bruce Heinrich, visited him at his home in Coonalpyn on October 9, 2002. The visit, and Wren, has stayed in my memory