June 18th, 2017

Happy Father’s Day!

[NOTE: This a slightly edited version of a previous post of mine.]

It’s Father’s Day. A sort of poor stepchild to Mother’s Day, although fathers themselves are hardly that. They are central to a family.

Just ask the people who never had one, or who had a difficult relationship with theirs. Or ask the people who were nurtured in the strength of a father’s love and guidance.

Of course, the complex world being what it is, and people and families being what they are, it’s the rare father-child relationship that’s entirely conflict-free. But for the vast majority, love is almost always present, even though at times it can be hard to express or to perceive. It can take a child a very long time to see it or feel it; but that’s part of what growing up is all about. And “growing up” can go on even in adulthood, or old age.

Father’s Day—or Mother’s Day, for that matter—can wash over us in a wave of treacly sentimentality. But the truth of the matter is often stranger, deeper, and more touching. Sometimes the words of love catch in the throat before they’re spoken. But they can still be sensed. Sometimes a loving father is lost through distance or misunderstanding, and then regained.

There’s an extraordinary poem by Robert Hayden that depicts one of these uneasy father-child connections—the shrouded feelings, both paternal and filial, that can come to be seen in the fullness of time as the love that was always, always there. I offer it on this Father’s Day to all of you.


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?

8 Responses to “Happy Father’s Day!”

  1. Big Maq Says:

    Had breakfast today to greetings of “Happy Father’s Day!”.

    My response: “Every day I get to start, by sharing breakfast with the ones I most want to be with, IS ‘Father’s Day!'”

    Hope every father here has an equally happy day.

  2. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    Father’s day. My son took me to my favorite restaurant.
    Plenty of tables.
    Mother’s Day, you couldn’t get in.

  3. Frog Says:

    It is said (probably a long time ago) that the most long distance calls were placed on Mother’s Day, but the day with the most collect calls was Father’s Day.
    But, hey! Got lots of calls and lots of love today.

  4. huxley Says:

    Here’s a hard, funny, beautiful poem about fatherhood by the greatest forgotten American poet and poetry editor.

    Step On His Head

    Let’s step on daddy’s head shout
    the children my dear children as
    we walk in the country on a sunny

    summer day my shadow bobs dark on
    the road as we walk and they jump
    on its head and my love of them

    fills me all full of soft feelings
    now I duck with my head so they’ll
    miss when they jump they screech

    with delight and I moan oh you’re
    hurting you’re hurting me stop
    they jump all the harder and love

    fills the whole road but I see it run
    on through the years and I know
    how some day they must jump when

    it won’t be this shadow but really
    my head (as I stepped on my own
    father’s head) it will hurt really

    hurt and I wonder if then I will
    have love enough will I have love
    enough when it’s not just a game?

    — James Laughlin

  5. huxley Says:


    I’m eating sardines
    and crackers with mustard

    salty and pungent protein
    one of the few memories I have
    of my father

    God how he loved me

  6. Llwddythlw Says:

    I didn’t really celebrate the day, although I did take the opportunity yesterday to write a long, “fatherly” e-mail to my son who just graduated from high school. Like Ed Bonderenka, I went to a restaurant which had many empty tables.

    I always find it amusing that in German, the word for fatherhood is “Vaterschaft”. If you pronounce it correctly, it sounds a little bit like the after-effects of children who don’t appreciate your interest in their affairs.

  7. arfldgr Says:

    Day before the father day weekend i was reviewd…
    The excuse for the 13th year of why a person with aspergers and a stellar review, will NOT get a raise again.. and so, cant have childfren with his wife, and makes her depressed as he has one child with another woman.

    this years offense?

    that i didnt follow strunk and whites his and her, and did not violate the company policy, the post doc manual, and the presentation by the corporate lawyer firm that not using them can be a EEOC offense.

    so yes… 13th year coming and no raise cause i follow company policy and each new guy they move me to every two years, will say you start new.

    this has meant my son doesnt bother much, my wife is barren after ten years of trying, i am getting more nad more end it all mentality, and there is no help from autistm places, or anywhere. which really really doesnt help.

    after all, i can lose raises and promotions by following company policy… hows that? and the rest of the review? well that comes after two years of exceeds expectaions, a customer service award, a 500 dollar stupend and a 5000 bonus cause iam such a bac worker.

    after 12 years i am entry level in a 35 year career
    they get expert level consulting work for basement prices and have exterminated my family..

    happy fathers day to you all

    all i ever wanted was to be a dad and have a home and a BBQ once in a while wiht family.

    wont ever happen,
    now i just wait ti die
    us aspies should never be born the way they terat us, take from us, steal from us and blame us for it.

    my art, inventions, designs, and such belong in the trash.. my life has been made a waste, despite bronx science, degrees and such…

    happy fathers day

  8. Oldflyer Says:

    I was fortunate to have strong, loving and gentle men in my life as a youth; Dad, Grandfather, a favorite Uncle. It is sad to realize that so many children today are missing that experience and mentoring. I know that it is not a new phenomenon, just an accelerating one. Mother, Grandmother, and various Aunts taught me how to be a civilized human by direction; the men taught me by example. They also taught me to suck it up when the occasion demanded.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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