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Archive for April 27th, 2012

From There On the Sad Height

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Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.


Funny, I never knew the ancient Greek philosopher had so close a familiarity with the kids of out current generation. Uh, not. And count on it, Socrates’ dad said exactly the same thing about young Soc.

This past weekend, the leader of a discussion group stated that one of the things a son wants most is his father’s acceptance and respect. To which one of the most esteemed members of the group had a strongly differing opinion, to the effect that that rule doesn’t apply to most kids today, that the favor of parents had lost all value under the assault of values spread by the internet, television and other media, schools, and from just about every other direction fear can pound from. To which I ventured my strongly differing opinion to his strongly differing opinion.

I know my father said exactly the same things about my generation, and I’m sure I did everything to convince him he was right. But did I not still crave his approval? and do I not still miss it to this day, even with the responsibility that I myself bear for the schism he and I never resolved?

One of the questions we discussed this past Wednesday asked, “What is the most impactful [sic] thing your father ever told you? (Even if it was not positive, sharing shows how important this is for you.)” I didn’t venture to share. Excuses include: not enough time; didn’t want to get into it; it’s over and done and needn’t get dragged out all over again. Excuses, excuses. Over 45 years after it was spoken, one single word my father said to me still hurts as much as if he had punched me square in the face five seconds ago. Sharing shows how important this is for me? OK then.

When I was 12 years old, my father prohibited me from having a completely innocent friendship with my dearest childhood friend. When I begged to know why, he couldn’t figure out any better way to enforce his discipline than to tell me that she would grow up to be a “whore.”

I was so innocent, at the time I didn’t even know what the word meant. All I knew was the hatred in his mouth voicing the word. Later, I tried to look up the word in my dictionary. Still too clueless to know what my father had said, I probed through the H section until I briefly thought my father had been calling my friend a “horror.” Sitting there in tears, something suddenly came to me, and I turned to the W section . . . and have hated my father ever since. I barely spoke a single word to him the rest of my youth. And what few occasions we have had for contact since then have never lasted past polite exchanges that never get followed up on.

When I died last September, Susan asked if I wanted my father contacted. I said no. And I did mean no. He doesn’t have to know whether I choose to go or stay.

And even so, that doesn’t mean that his blessing would not have meant more to me than his curse has done. Discussing it further later last Wednesday night, Susan pointed back to Esau, who lost the blessing of his father Isaac, when his brother Jacob masqueraded as his hairy brother to bring their dying father one of his last meals. That blessing means something real, tangible, whether it is won by the latest generation’s Jacob or lost by the current generation’s Esau. That blessing means something promising, precious, whether in Socrates’ day or in our own. No matter how rebellious or incorrigible the son, the blessing or the curse of the father matters.

The son may be free enough to not need or want the father’s permission. The son may be of his own mind enough to not care for or listen to the father’s counsel. The son may disagree with the father or even have become an enemy of the father. Yet just as David will still always be mourning Absolom’s death, so too always will the son find strength in his father’s blessing or poison in his father’s curse.

Now I have never had a son of my own to be able to say. As deeply as I have been favored by God to have been a part of two families that have seen six step-children through to their adult lives, at best I can only confirm the damage done to the first three by the void of their fathers’ blessing being absent, and the utterly amazing positive power that the father’s blessing has meant to the second three.

Were I to have a man of the next generation after mine to pass the torch to, he would not hear the words I heard from my father. He would hear only the deepest, most sincere words of acceptance, respect, honor and praise. With no kudos for me for wanting to have the chance to do so. But simply because it’s right.

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Written by macheide

27 April 2012 at 3:24 pm

Posted in quotated

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