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What Is a Father?

  • A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth without anesthetic. A father is a thing that growls when he feels good...and laughs very loud when he is scared half to death.
  • A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child’s eyes. He is never quite the hero his daughter thinks he is...never quite the man his son believes him to be...and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to try to smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who follow him.
  • A father is a thing that gets upset when the first grades in school are not as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son...though he knows it is the teacher’s fault.
  • Fathers grow old faster than people. Because they, in wartime, have to stand at the airports and wave good-bye to the uniformed son that flies away to face the unknown. And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers have to be brave and beam outside...while quietly dying inside.
  • Fathers have very stout hearts; so they have to be broken sometimes or no one would know what’s inside. Fathers are what give daughters away to other men who are not nearly good enough...so they can have grandchildren that are smarter than anybody’s.
  • Fathers fight dragons...almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table...off to the arena which is sometimes called an office or a workshop. There, with callused, practiced hands, they tackle the dragon with three heads: weariness, work, and monotony. They never quite win the fight, but they never give up. Knights in shining armor—fathers in shiny trousers: there is little difference, as they march away to each new workday.
  • And when a father who knows the Lord dies, I have an idea that after a good rest he will not be happy unless there is work to do. He will not just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he has loved and the children she bore. He will be busy there, too—repairing the stairs...oiling the gates, improving the streets...smoothing the way.

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