What Are Fathers Made Of?

Another from the book I reported discovering in a box recently.

We grow from our humble beginnings of “snakes and snails and puppy dogs tails” as boys and into sterner stuff as men.



A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth without an anesthetic.

A father is a thing that growls when it feels good … and always laughs very loud when it’s scared half to death.

A father is sometimes accused of giving too much time to his business when the little ones are growing up.

That’s partly fear, too.

Fathers are much more easily frightened than mothers.

tired-dadA father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child’s eyes.

He’s never quite the hero his daughter thinks … never quite the man his son believes him to be. This worries him, sometimes.

So he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.

A father is a thing that gets very angry when the first school grades aren’t as good as he thinks they should be.

He scolds his son … though he knows it’s the teacher’s fault.

A father is a thing that goes away to war, sometimes.

He learns to swear and shoot and spit through his teeth and would run the other way except that this war is part of his only important job in life … which is making the world better for his child than it has been for him.

Fathers grow old faster than people.

Because they, in other ways, have to stand at the train station and wave goodbye to the uniform that climbs aboard …

And while mothers can cry where it shows … fathers have to stand there and beam outside … and die inside.

Fathers have very stout hearts, so they have to be broken sometimes or no one would know what’s inside.

father_lFathers are what give daughters away to other men who aren’t 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 calloused, practiced hands they tackle the dragon with three heads: Weariness, Work and Monotony.

And they never quite win the fight but they never give up.

Knights in shining armor … fathers in shiny trousers … there’s little difference as they march away to each workday.

Father’s make bets with insurance companies about who’ll live the longest. Though they know the odds they keep right on betting. Even as the odds get higher and higher … they keep right on betting … more and more.

One day they lose.

holding-handsBut fathers enjoy an earthly immortality … and the bet’s paid off to the part of him he leaves behind.

I don’t know … where fathers go … when they die.

But I’ve an idea that after a good rest … wherever it is … he won’t be happy unless there’s work to do.

He won’t just sit on a cloud and wait for the girl he’s loved and the children she bore. He’ll be busy there, too … repairing the stairs … oiling the gates … improving the streets … smoothing the way.


From You said it, Paul Harvey!, compiled by Lynne Harvey.


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