One thing is sure: the story cannot be retold. Life’s pages cannot be revised.
I look back at my life as a Baby Boomer parent.
To my first daughter, I was no father at all. Nor was I much of a husband to her mother. Married, I set my heart against marriage, surprising even myself in a resolve to turn away, to leave behind, to abandon those to whom I had committed my love, presence, care and protection. Self-involved, full of my own dreams and desires, life was about me. In many ways—too many ways—it still is.
To my first son, I was a father flawed out of proportion. The bad outweighed by the good. I saw too much of him through my own eyes, as if he had been cloned rather than born. He was not me. His experiences were not my own, were not to be my own. I was a drunk. His life, and his mother’s, framed in fear like that photo on the wall of a happy little family, not so happy. I did not run away, but have not been the husband and father of their dreams.
I have been a father to my second son. But he has not been a son. Dead at birth, he only knew life in the warmth of his mother’s womb. He rests in a place called Rocky Comfort. We cry over him there.
To my second daughter—my youngest child—I have been a better father than I was to her older sister and brother. I am not the drunk I once was. Age has made me more attentive if less active. In her eyes there is light and promise. She makes me laugh. I credit myself for a part of what my daughter is. The good part. There is no bad part. Not that I can, or will, see.
That’s my opinion, of course. Her mother may have a different point of view. My wife says I indulge the girl and I say that my wife is too hard on her. Too demanding. When my son was growing up, the reverse held. We are both right and wrong. Only time, and my little girl, will tell the truth of the matter. I have great confidence that she, like my other children, will overcome the sins of their father.
Guilt is a destructive preoccupation. Weakness is an unattractive quality in a man, but especially so in a father. Unforgivable in the eyes of his family. How much is me and how much is my generation? If the latter, I pity my peers. If me, I pity myself—an indulgence I find both shameful and cleansing. One thing is sure: the story cannot be retold. Life’s pages cannot be revised.
“What I have written, I have written,” said Pilate.
—Photo PinkStock Photos!/Flickr