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The speaker is now an adult, looking back upon his childhood. He shares with the reader all that his father did for him and the rest of the family, getting up alone early in the "blueback cold" (2), with hands that were so chapped the skin cracked, so the family can awake to a warm house. The narrator realizes that no one in the family thanked him for performing this task. The speaker also tells us that he spoke "indifferently" (10) to his father, who not only made sure the house was warm, but also polished the narrator's shoes. In the last two lines, he is saying how young and foolish he was, to not understand that love could be expressed quietly, without an audience, by performing simple tasks for the people you love. There is some sense in these lines of a narrator who has come to understand this because he has now had the experience of performing lonely, simple tasks for his family, although it is also possible that this is an insight he has come to just through the maturing process.
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