Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fathers and Sons

 “I just wish I could have told him in the living years.”

—Mike and the Mechanics

My father was a good father, and, in most respects, I was a dutiful son. But I allowed my father to starve for the one thing I could have given him: myself. He was a quiet man; I was equally silent. We often worked for hours side by side and scarcely a word passed between us. He never asked; I never told him my deepest desires and dreams, my hopes and fears.

In time I woke up to my reticence. Perhaps the perception came when my first-born came into the world, or when, one by one, my sons went out into the world. Now I wish I had been more of a son to my father while I was under his roof. I think of all the things I could have told him. And all the things he could have told me. At his funeral I stood beside his casket for the last time, struggling to understand my emotions. “It’s too late, isn’t it?” Carolyn said quietly. Exactly.

My comfort lies in the fact that I’ll be able to make things up in heaven, for is that not where every relationship will be set right? George MacDonald thought so: “What a disintegrated mass were the world, what a lump of half-baked brick, if death were indeed the end of affection! if there were no chance more of setting right what was so wrong in the loveliest relations! How gladly would many a son who once thought it a weariness to serve his parents, minister now to their lightest need! and in the boundless eternity is there no help?” (Home Again: A Tale).

Death is not the end of affection, but the beginning of timeless existence in which there will be no more secrets and love will grow forever. Then, the hearts of sons will be turned to their fathers and the hearts of fathers to their sons. Then, we’ll pay attention to the things that matter most.

DHR

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