For Whatever Fathers Remain

Did your dad love you? Was he a faithful presence in your life, showing you how fathers are? If so, you are blessed indeed; you have a sure foundation no amount of passing tribulation can fundamentally change. Not ever.

Ignore those #PatriarchyStinks memes; they’re simply an effluvial by-product of our present cultural sink. Most of them are a sad mix of perpetual aggrievement, sour grapes and envy. How likely is it that many of those pathetic Social Justice Warriorettes would be able to point to their own fathers with any sense of love or pride? I’ve often wondered, how many were separated from fathers who’d have been more than willing to love them, but were prevented from doing so by vengeful mothers? I’ll bet their losses are higher than average.

For reasons beyond my own mother’s control I never had the chance to know my father. Wisely, she never spoke ill of him while I was growing up and gave me every reason to be proud of his family back in Ireland. Thus as a very young child I was able to fabricate a simulacrum of a dad. Children learn to make do.

Given the place of fathers in the human heart, it makes sense that deities in Western cultures are most often male, with all the classical qualities we have traditionally seen as predominantly male. And it makes further sense that as the template for traditional families (father as head, mother as heart, and both intended to nurture children) crumbled, so would fall the image of man made in God’s likeness.

“What’s God got to do with it?” say our modern super-rational men and women. What indeed? How does one explain the quality of ‘blue’ to a blind man or the majesty of Bach to one who can never hear? If only Reason were involved, we’d all be atheists. But for those of us who appear deluded to non-believers, there is no ground on which to meet where language can convey experience. In like manner, those of you whose father template is so utterly secure as to be beyond words cannot really impart to those of us without fathers what it is you possess that we don’t.

One of the great satisfactions in my life has been to witness the relationship between the Baron and our son (and his relationships with my other children when they could allow it). Yes, it took me a while to recognize the “otherness” of their bond. Very early on, I was put firmly in my place — a proper place — regarding that father <—> son process. It didn’t take long to honor and to enjoy their experience together even as I learned to not back-seat drive.

Our son knows he’s very fortunate in having the Baron for his dad; it’s a mutual admiration society. Besides his own experience, the future Baron has also has heard the sad stories of many other men not so fortunate.

By chance, this Father’s Day occurs at what was for decades the celebration of our annual Mid-Summer Weekend here at Schloss Bodissey. For all those years, from Friday through Sunday dozens of people gathered to share food, music, fireworks, and friendships. The laughter and darting presence of so many children was a delight. I never thought about it ending, but like Peter Pan’s friends, the children grew up and their parents aged out of camping tents and sleeping on the ground. A few years later, even the Heavenly Tree withered away: her admirers came no more.

Sic transit gloria… while we can, let us celebrate fathers. Let us ignore the messages that men are somehow less than women, that women are innately superior, that men aren’t necessary for the development of robustly curious, innovative children who experience joy as part of living.

Men are indeed every bit as vital to the process of becoming fully human as women are. The current cultural polarization has shredded the wisdom of the ages: happiness lies in complementarity. Any woman who willfully follows the shallow fad about “not needing men” will eventually hoe a row of sorrow. Even worse, so will her sons.

28 thoughts on “For Whatever Fathers Remain

  1. My dad passed when I was 37. I’m now 55. His family was around his hospital bed as he passed, though he’d really left us sooner than that. It was a family decision to pull the plug. Damn he was strong, he lingered on for a long time after that plug was pulled.

    He’d had a string on heart attacks and strokes, coupled with pneumonia and he was just done. Drinking and smoking didn’t help him achieve longevity, but they made him happy.

    He taught me to use a saw, bang nails, turn wrenches, run a chain saw, and drive at the age of 11. He taught me to fill a ledger, run a 10 key adding machine, build a fire, drive a boat, there is no end to the list.

    He punished me when I was bad (back when that was still allowed) and praised me when I did well. He was there for Y-Indian Guides, Little League, and Scouts. The guy even told me about the birds and the bees when I was 17, never mind we had sex ed in the 6th grade and I’d already been laid – I think Mom made him do it.

    Thank you Dymphna for reminding me to remember my father today. I write this with tears in my eyes.

    • Oh My Gosh! I can’t believe you brought up Indian Guides. My husband and sons were in Indian Guides and I was just thinking about it today.
      The best thing about IG was that it was totally run by the Dads. The boys and the Dads loved the program and just the other day I came across one of my sons vests with all the badges hot glued on. We still have items made in IG that we drag out every Christmas.
      And what bliss for a mother of boys to have the house to herself for 2 hours on Tues. night. If the entourage came home with no one bleeding the night was a success…
      I can’t imagine that IG is still in existence in this twisted PC culture. Certainly not in SoCal. And if it is gone then that is a shame.
      Those were some of the happiest years of our lives.

      • Somewhere around here I still have my headband and string of beads from IG. Beads and the claws, there were eagle claws and grizzly claws – injection molded, of course. The Indian name I chose for myself was Crazy Horse.

        • My husband was in charge of handing out the
          “injection molded claws” and fake feathers. He was always stressing about it…
          The funny thing is that we still have that stuff in the basement! My husband can’t get rid of it. I think that was such a formative part of his being a man, he can’t give it away or throw it out.
          Indian Guides worked both ways; for the fathers and the sons.

          Not so Scouts. One of my sons made Eagle and one of them heart. That org demanded that you turn your sons over to them and their 1950’s Korea lunatics take over their program. We fought against it and were thrown out of the unit. Men cursing at our children, sending them on camping weekends where it snowed where the boys were in tents and the men were in heated cabins? Sending them on hikes in the winter where they all came back with poison ivy? I guess that taught them something… At the time I even stated “Is this like the movie Behind Enemy Lines?”

          But we changed troops and brought our oldest son to Eagle and our younger son to Life… Both my sons helped our community and learned a lot.

          BTW, Eagle Scouts are a dime a dozen at military academies and, upon leaving the Navy I had to make a case for the oldest son to even state it on his resume!

          I served for several years on the Suffolk County BSA board because I was also a sponsor of another troop in the area. I am very saddened by what has become of the Boy Scouts and I don’t think they will last for very much longer in their former form.

          I saw it coming 25 years ago with a lunatic in SoCal that wanted his son to be included in scouting but didn’t believe in God (and wanted to make a point of it). That man started the ball rolling to destroy the Boy Scouts as we knew them. He did irreparable harm to scouting, a Christian organization, that Scouting has been unable to recover from.

          Just this evening one of my sons called to wish happy father’s day and I got to talking to him about how much fun he had but how politically incorrect Indian Guides would be today. He asked me a rather reasonable question; why if someone disagrees with an organization don’t they just start another organization?

          To which I answered that is a lot easier to destroy an established organisation and demand that they conform to your will then to initiate another organisation…

          It is a sad state of affairs but unfortunately, we see it all over the culture in the West.

          • Most troops are sponsored by a church. The troop my brother and I were in was essentially self sponsored. The parents of the scouts formed an organization called Dads of 57 and that was our sponsor. Our major fund raiser each year was a Christmas wreath sale. People in town knew we were coming with the wreaths and would wait for us, the scouts would go door to door selling them. In the run up to Christmas you would see them not only on most home’s front doors, but also on the grills of cars.

            Ours was an excellent troop. There was no focus whatever on religion. We were focused on first aid, knots, and camping.

            We too had a trip where the scouts pitched shabby tents in the snow and fathers stayed in a heated cabin. We also had many camping trips where the scouts hiked to camp carrying everything they would use on their back and we’d arrive at camp to find the fathers had driven all the way to camp. Character building, right?

          • My two daughters-in-law (sisters) are from Los Angeles, where their father started an Orthodox Jewish, kosher, Sabbath-keeping Boy Scout Troop with considerable support from the national organization. He felt that scouting would be good for his high-functioning autistic son. It was indeed good for the boy, and also for his little brother, for the other children involved, and especially for the father. Notwithstanding the current lunacy in Boy Scouts, it is — or was — a great thing. If the parent organization has gone mad, then fathers should start their own groups along similar lines.

      • In our county the Boy Scouts have survived without any noticeable p.c. hollowing-out. In fact, they were racially integrated well before the push for “justice”. Our county has a sizable black middle and lower-middle class population – rooted here since before the Civil War, but with surnames court records after they attained freedom. So people ‘got’ why the name change was symbolically important when it went from the Robt E Lee Council to the Heart of Virginia.

        The group flourished because dedicated men – some without sons in the group who saw its importance – put in the hours to keep those traditions alive. Mothers were involved only at the Cub level.

        The future B was one of a large cohort of boys that the men took care to mentor right through to the top attainment. As a result, their troop had the most Eagle Scouts in the state. And without fail, funds were found for every boy to attend the annual summer camp.

        I was supposed to send off his Eagle Scout project – a chronicle of the remaining WWII military in our county – to the Congressional Library. I’ve never done it, but it’s on my bucket list…

        • My brother made Eagle. He tried out Scouting for his son but didn’t like the experience. Bro’ has become quite the unthinking progressive and Scouting is a Christian organization. The version of Boy Scouts that was available to his family was a bit religiously extreme for him.

          D, you should move that task of promoting your son’s project to the Congressional Library up your list. It sounds worth while, how else is anyone going to benefit from his efforts?

          • Each person got his/her own copy and some were bought by relatives. He finished it in 2000, I think, and as time goes on I’m hoping he’ll make an appointment to go up there himself one of these days. He does sometimes visit Northern VA.

            If he presented it himself he’d get to find out where it will be kept – there are many dairies, journals, etc. Now that all the men (and one woman) are gone from us, I am reluctant to let this copy just go into the mail…It is something to discuss with him, though.

          • The extent of “religion” in Boy Scouts here was a yearly commemoration in February, honoring the roots of faith in this country. Since there is some real variety here, I’m glad they do it.

  2. Beautifully written Lady D.
    I never knew my natural father, it’s a long story–suicide.
    I grew up with a step-father who was a prince of a man; I was one of the lucky ones. I often think of him now, and years ago I scattered his ashes round a huge rock on the summit of NZ’s highest road, which also happened to be where his first girl-friend’s ashes are scattered.
    My mom died years before, and she will never know! It was what he wanted.

    • You were one of the fortunate ones…boys have it so hard. I am tired of the emphasis on girls. Yes, we need dads too, but for boys, there is a hole in the soul…and you got to fill it.

  3. I`m thankfull that my father and my mother teached me respect for others.
    Not by preaching, but by giving me a role model.
    And so I grew to have deeply rooted love and respect for them, and finally for myself.

    Thats what carries you trough times of diffculties and enables you to stand your ground – for yourself and those you feel devoted to.
    All those social justice whatevers on the other hand have a lack of self respect and suffer from hating themselves.
    And that is what drives them, there is this empty space in their personality, and they feel the need to replace it with something else.

  4. I visited my father’s grave yesterday, it’s 11 years this week since he passed away. When I was younger, I spent a lot of years indulging my addiction, but I finally cleaned up my act, got a decent job, and took a degree.

    My Dad saw the letter confirming my final exam results, and saw that I had my degree. I was due to go down to Glasgow for the graduation ceremony, and had bought the train tickets & was good to go. Sadly, Dad had another MI and this time he did not make it. Blue light ambulance, the whole thing, but it was all to no avail.

    I have kept those train tickets in my wallet, and went to take a look at them just now. It was a special deal, a ‘Friends Fare’. Dad was indeed my friend.

    Dad didn’t get to see me walking across the stage wearing a fancy academic robe, but he knew that I had sobered up and taken a degree. He saw me doing that, & knew that I made it. And I never took another drink.

    • My father was cremated. My mom and my brother and I placed his ashes in the mountain lake that he loved. Ironically, not far from the spot where his mother and little sister drowned many years before. I visit that lake every year as we keep a summer home there.

      My mom recently asked me to place her ashes near my father’s when it’s her time and I’m thinking of the same for myself. That lake is going to be full of my family’s ashes and bones.

      • We took our boat out on the lake. We weighted his ashes with rocks so they would sink, we didn’t really want them to disperse, we wanted them to stay in place. We also brought along a very nice bottle of bourbon. Dad loved bourbon.

        We each took a shot, then replaced the cork. We released Dad’s ashes into the lake first and then let the bottle sink. As we sat there reflecting for a few moments some bubbles came rising up, and then the cork. It was Dad’s last shot.

      • Y’all might want to consider some kind of permanent plaque for the family. Even when property is sold, people honor usually honor those. Here in VA, family cemeteries dot the landscape, even the fields. When parcels are logged off, any cemeteries ‘come to light’ again…

        • We don’t really see selling the property in the foreseeable future. The fourth generation are already reaching their teens and they’re learning how to operate a country home.

          Oh boy they are ready for it. I fondly remember my nephew asking me to carry him back from the dock to the cabin because he didn’t have his shoes. I asked, “Well, how did you get yourself down here?” He said he walked. So I told him I would but I was going to carry him like a sack of potatoes. So I threw him over my shoulder and he said that was fine because it gave him the opportunity to smack me on the butt. And I told him that cuts both ways and we walked back to the cabin smacking each other on the butt. It’s a wonder my sister in law lets me near her children at all.

          I’m not a Dad, but I am an uncle. Sometimes I claim to be a couple of monkey’s uncle.

  5. Well said, we do have a lonely row to hoe nowadays, but when daughters and granddaughter wish me a happy father’s day, I know I have received passing marks for the year. You are correct, the parent’s rearing is written on the life of the child. while the pc police are promoting their new and improved all-purpose reality, children still know inside what is needed and are grateful to have both parents who are committed to the stewardship of raising their children

  6. My Father died when I was 15, both my Grandfathers had no part in my life, one dead the other in an insane asylum (I was told he was dead).

    As a father and Grandfather I have had to ad-lib, make it up as I go along, it is only recently that I realized how big a hole in my life the missing males were/are.

    I cannot put my finger on what it is, one of my sons describes a feeling of standing on the shoulders of giants, but I find that difficult.

    But they feel part of a heritage, a ‘history’, something which I lacked.

  7. My father spent half of my childhood in Norway being cured of TB (tuberculosis), so I didn’t know him very well when he appeared on our doorstep in Cleveland, Ohio, where we were living in a very ratty little 2-room apartment with our mother.

    I had romanticized him all those years. He was very handsome, so it was easy to do so.

    There were ups and downs and he had a temper. However, I will always be grateful that I had both a mother and a father and so have our children had. Our son is still married to his original wife but our daughter is divorced, although the children spend weekends with Dad (who is the fun parent, ie totally irresponsible). But at least he is there to love and entertain them. YAY for fathers!!!

  8. On holiday with my brother and his wife in 2002, he and I agreed that an important lesson we learned from our Dad was that one must have principles, even if ours weren’t always the same as his.

    Our parents died within three weeks in 1999, and my siblings and I put their ashes into Lake Windermere, on the far side of Belle Island, opposite Bowness; we’d spent many happy childhood weekends there (Dad kept a sailing dinghy in Bowness). I was taken aback by Oswald’s comment (June 28th, 6.47am, under “Jo Cox…”) regarding the mansion on the Island having been built with the profits from slavery; not something I’d heard before. It doesn’t diminish the memory; indeed Mum and Dad came of nonconformist stock, so our ancestors were likely abolitionists.

  9. I don’t know, maybe when I was small he did. Something was wrong though, it never connected as a boy, and even later on, when I was out of his hair, on my own as an adult. Both parents are gone now, my Mother many years ago, she might have been able to explain why…you just never know.

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