Ours was a coal furnace. There being no son until the fifth child, it fell to me, after the metal bins were filled with ash, to help my father haul them out of the cellar and take them to the dump. But before they were ashes, he would get up in the middle of those cold winter nights to shovel coal into the furnace.And when he was recuperating from polio, it was my mother who carried out these "austere and lonely offices".
Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he'd call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love's austere and lonely offices?