The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: June 16, 2018. Dear Old Dad Edition



Father’s Song
Gregory Orr

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.

Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet
a child’s blood so red
it stops a father’s heart.

My daughter cried her tears;
I held some ice
against her lip.
That was the end of it.

Round and round: bow and kiss.
I try to teach her caution;
she tries to teach me risk.

From Those Winter Sundays
Robert Hayden

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.



The Gift
Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

58 thoughts on “The IM Saturday Monks Brunch: June 16, 2018. Dear Old Dad Edition

  1. Christine, there yoo go again. I never once said I did not agree with You politically so I guess I can still be a Catholic. You should have gone to mass this morning as the readings and homily were from Mathew chapter 5 on loving your enemies. I don’t mind you criticizing my opinions but please read them and see if I said anything about coming down on the side of this administration. You just assumed without any proof because your so blinded with anger.


  2. I have never said I agree with what is happening to these children and it is appalling. All I questioned was the appropriateness of a great blog on Father’s Day to promote any political agenda. And if you go back a couple of weeks Robert condemned the same political stance that I am taking on.


  3. Well, I’m not questioning this person’s Christianity. But Catholic? No way. I’m sorry, but no way. Even the US bishops are saying that what is happening under Trump’s orders is immoral. Even the SBC, to their credit, is against what is happening.

    Explain that to this little one:

    BTW, your signature ‘negativity’ makes you too transparent to be believed. Just thought you might want to know.


  4. Seneca, one more time: the kids you’re talking about were not pulled screaming from their parents’ arms, by men with guns, and put in cages without their parents knowing their whereabouts. Rather, they were chauffeured off to cushy schools and their parents paid big bucks for that. It may be the “little boxes” scenario that Pete Seeger lampooned, but it’s not little cages. And guns. Remember the guns.

    I’m not really sure if you’re playing an Archie Bunker parody or not.


  5. Every year, young kids leave their parents home to live full time at prep schools. Hasn’t changed Christiane.
    Then these very kids grow up and ship their children off to schools. The pattern continues.


  6. Seneca,

    DID those children ‘really’ survive?
    The cruelty factor alone is so far beyond reckoning that I wonder what survived of those little ones and what perished in them.

    Abuse takes a toll. The younger the child, the worse the damage.


  7. They were forcibly separated from their parents into what were basically “reeducation” camps, where they were to learn to live as Euro-Americans, which meant that they were forbidden to speak in their native languages, had to dress in European clothes, were prohibited from participating in or following their native cultures or religions, and could have no interaction with their families or native culture. Many children died, many more lived but were abused by their keepers and teachers. That Native American tribes have subverted the original intention of those schools, adopting community schools for their own purposes to maintain their cultures and tribal coherence, is a testament to the strength and resilience of their tribal values. But if you can’t recognize that the forcibly removing children from their parents for purposes of cultural reeducation is wrong, then we have very different values — you sound too much like a Maoist to me.


  8. Seneca, let’s pay attention to the problem. None of the kids you’ve referenced were pulled from their parents’ arms by men with guns, and against the will of the parents.

    I’m waiting to hear if it’s also against the Constitution. If it is, that’ll get blamed on the Democrats too.


  9. Missionary kids were separated from their parents. The English parents sent their boys off to ETON, HARROW etc. In the USA, a lot of young lads went off to military schools starting in their early years.
    Somehow all these kids survived.


  10. People did think that way in those days, Christiane. Antebellum slave auctioneers separated parents from their children on the auction block; Native American children were forcibly separated from their parents into Native American Boarding Schools in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Official cruelty to children and to families of oppressed minorities, including removing children from their custody, is nothing new, in American or world history; it was standard operating procedure. That’s why we don’t want to Make America Great Again; it’s a bad, an evil, idea.


  11. @Christiane — Yes. We are well past the place where it is right to ignore this Administration’s affronts to basic human decency in the name of being apolitical.


  12. Christiane is speaking out against a man whose policies have ripped children from their mothers and put the children in cages.

    That man pays people to say that it’s the teaching of the Bible. That man has said that there is nothing he needs to be forgiven for.

    Christiane is clearly not obsessed with hate, other than to speak out against it.

    Have a happy Fathers’ Day.


  13. It’s kind of funny the way you think you can rate the quality and authenticity of other poster’s Christianity on the basis of a their comments. Has anyone here questioned yours?


  14. He is not my Mr. Trump. I am a registered Democrat who did not vote for Mr. T. My complaint with you is that if the post was on sunny days you would bring politics into it somehow. You are clearly obsessed with hate and it does not show well for your supposed Christian virtues.


  15. My father was an immigrant. He spoke no English when he came here as a small boy. He learnt English when the nuns taught him half day in French, half in English at St. Jeanne d’Arc School in Aldenville Massachusetts. His father, my dear pepere, was badly injured in a building accident on the job and my father left school at sixteen and went into the CCC’s to send money home to support the family. All of his sisters went to work in factories or as maids. My memere (grandmother) sewed and did laundry and scrubbed to help support the family.

    But education WAS very valued. My father worked three jobs while we were growing up. And when the time came for us to go to university, the money was in the bank. So the second generation (me, my brother and sister) received excellent educations. Third generation: one doctor, two nurse practitioners, an architect (my brother’s line);
    a child psychiatrist, a lawyer (cousin Anne’s line), and on and on . . . .

    I don’t even know if my father came to this country legally. But I do know that he and my aunts were never taken away from the grandparents. I don’t think people even THOUGHT that way in those days, because it was so evil.
    I guess people thought differently then about doing something so vile to a mother and her children, thank God.

    I miss my father. He was the best person I ever knew.


  16. We all hope for Ozzie and Harriet but alas, it just ain’t so. Sounds like you lived with a lot of navigation required. My wife had a similar upbringing. Very tough stuff.


  17. And you two are not passing judgement on Mr.T. And you were passing judgement on me. My point was that a really nice Father’s Day edition somehow again came around to politics.


  18. oh, I had forgotten . . . . in the Handmaid’s Tale, the children are taken away from their mothers, and their mothers cannot find out where the children are, or how they are unless someone in power helps them

    we know T doesn’t read or listen to his advisors, nor does he understand the law, or the Constituion BUT HE DOES WATCH TELEVISION!!!

    Maybe he got his idea for this nightmare scheme from the Handmaid’s Tale???

    I’ll stop here because the rest of what I have on my mind is unprintable.


  19. When the packed cattle cars headed East to the gas chambers and crematoriums, the Church (save for Bonhoeffer and Niemoller) was complicit.

    So is it really any surprise that when a nursing baby is torn from its mother on our present day Southern border, a White House fundagelical will claim it’s ‘Biblical’?


  20. Wherever religion does the work of antichrist under the guise of Christianity, as it is doing in the justification of separating parents from children at our border, I think the allusion is apropos.

    You’re absolutely right. I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale, and I don’t know if life is imitating art or the other way around.


  21. Peace to you, Robert. I realize well that holidays of any kind, but particularly those that touch nerves frayed from our own histories, can be difficult. Thanks for hanging in there with us today.


  22. Wow Robert – One hardly knows what to say to stories like yours. I appreciate your honest sharing.


  23. I was alluding to the last lines in Yeat’s poem “The Second Coming”. I’ve always taken those last lines as the ominous prefiguring of an imminent demonic parody of the Incarnation. Wherever religion does the work of antichrist under the guise of Christianity, as it is doing in the justification of separating parents from children at our border, I think the allusion is apropos.


  24. As an adoptive father who had wondered if he would ever be a father, being one is very special to me. I’m also very grateful for my own father, grandfathers, and Godfather. I’m also very aware that this isn’t everyone’s experience. Thanks for the Father’s Day post.


  25. I think you meant slouching towards Gomorrah, but it turns out there is also a book Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

    Gehenna would work too.


  26. My father was a rough, uneducated peasant from Reggio, Calabria, Italy. He beat his wife and children (at least some of them, though not me, his last and born late, who he ignored rather than beat), and was given to fits of rage that could become nearly homicidal. Fortunately, he didn’t drink and always held down a full-time, reasonably well-paying blue collar job that afforded our family entrance to solidly middle middle-class life, where we fit like sore thumbs. Our household was always filled with the simmering to overflowing rage of the diseased relationship between my father and mother. My father mellowed somewhat as he got older, and my mother gained the upper hand in the dirty little war that went on between them for almost their entire married life. He never laid a hand on me, my mother prevented that, but he also never had much to do with me. At the end of his life, because my mother was not up to the task, I became his primary caretaker as he slowly died from metastasized prostate cancer. The only time I ever saw him cry was near the end, during the Holidays, when he knew he would not make to another Christmas. I wish I could say that those last months spent with him brought healing to our relationship, some sort of reconciliation, but they didn’t. I did however see his humanness in a new way, and his vulnerability for the first time, and one day in God’s time I hope that forgiveness and reconciliation will bring us together at last.

    Rest in peace, Dad, and Happy Father’s Day.


  27. Yes. When the same Biblical passages are trotted out by the government to defend inhumane immigration policy that were used to justify slavery and pacify enslaved people, you know something repugnant is not only slouching towards but has arrived in Bethlehem. I’ll leave it at that, since the blog administrator does not wish us to go down this path today.


  28. You can definitely tell who is enjoying Father’s Day and who just wants some red meet to jaw on


  29. I’m all in favor of taking a day off to let off some steam. But the issues at hand – the savaging of families at the border, the arrogant pseudo-biblical posturing of those in power, the implosion of flagship evangelical denominations – cannot be set aside forever.


  30. CM, I think your Fathers Day brunch was right on target. I too appreciate the time and thought you and DJ put into this endeavor and it all pro Sonny Bono, in tribute to the former Congressman. . I thought todays was really good and we all need a break from the daily grind. I am not a pancake, donut, hot dog, peanut, flag, tree or many other things but they all have their special day. Even a dog will have his day.

    It is time we all make Room for Daddy, someday we will all leave it to Beaver aka Theodore. Andy of Mayberry was single Dad but that was so long ago Opie was cute. Eddie Fisher big hit Oh My Papa, can you imagine that being in the top ten now, you might as well go Fiddle on the Roof.

    I do think they have a cure for mono focus but it is not over the counter and the store might be closed in honor of Fathers Day.

    Eeyore, thanks for the Trotsky phrase reference, I know a lot of crap and was unaware of this fine observation. I have the rare ability to turn many things I touch into crap so I try to stay a tuned to crap developments. John Crapper gave us so much and everyone just craps on his work and abuses his first name. To me he is the Father of Crap, so it ties in. The proud name of Crap stands for something, that people remember.


  31. On the other hand, one of the things that made old style doctrinaire Marxist intellectuals so dreadful was that they never discussed the weather, and were proud of the fact — they were too grimly focused on revolutionary politics (crap in the context of this exchange) to bother about something as bourgeois as weather.


  32. Not my intention to question your prerogative to choose as you choose, CM, but I did think I needed to come clean to rhymeswithplague, because my initial reaction was actually similar to his (?), and we so rarely agree.


  33. To steal a phrase from Trotsky, you may not be interested in the crap, but the crap is interested in you.


  34. I hear ya, CM, but I think a better response would’ve been, “Okay, you complainers, YOU try writing one of these Saturday brunch things!”

    I know it’s not easy pulling material together, forming it into something coherent, trying to balance the satirical with the serious, and to do so while offending as few people as possible.

    Case in point, you can’t even put out a simple Father’s Day themed brunch, and a light one at that, without someone poking at it!

    I appreciate the work you and Daniel Jepson put into our Saturday brunches, CM!!


  35. Why the mono focus? Simply because I can.

    And to mix things up a bit.

    And, oh yeah, to totally ignore the crazy-making news of this past week. I just want a weekend off from that crap, to enjoy my kids and grandkids and to think about being a dad.

    So that’s it.


  36. RhymeswithPlague, Of course this site is not a church, ,,,,, there are no dues or do s or do not’s. If necessity is the Mother of invention what are Fathers the Father of? I use to ponder why Germany was the Fatherland and Russia self branded as the Motherland? Difference in perspective for sure.

    Love the 1950’s era lead off picture, shows how we progressed from Father to my baby’s Daddy as a culture. Guy wearing a tie and suit, drinking from a beer glass probably a Schlitz or perhaps Ballentine beer, reading a magazine and he looks happy. Perhaps that was his 10th beer . We went from Father Knows Best to Jerry Springer DNA paternity test show pretty quick.

    Mothers care about Mothers Day as they well should. Fathers care about Fathers Day if it makes their family happy and not a really big deal. I honestly have to say , if my sons, well actually probably my daughter in laws, did not note Fathers Day , I would be a little hurt , in spite of the hardened, tough as nails, manly , fierce and stoic image I project to the world as I refuse to eat quiche or look at the Hallmark Channel.

    In the lower social economic neighborhood I grew up in , the definition of mass confusion was Fathers Day. How come most single parent homes are headed by women? Is it nature or nurture?

    So thanks for the Jim Gaffigan clips. Have not seen him in a while , witty , real observations and he summed it up very well. Mother in law jokes are , were, a staple of jokes but not Father in law jokes.

    The importance of a Father, Mother and the nuclear family cannot be over emphasized for the good of individuals and society. I think it is not so much that historically Father knew best but they wanted what was best for their family and felt obligated to secure it. As the Judds sang “Tell Me About the Good Old Days” and one of the verses was, did Fathers never go away, did they really stay?, I am sure I mangled the verse but the meaning is there.

    Spoiler Alert, Darth Vader is the Father of Luke and Leia but he had to leave them to pursue his career and he left for the good of the children as he was fighting with wife in front of the kids, It was better for them if he left them.
    Talk about trying to escape child support. He could have at least given Luke a hand.


  37. A tribute to my Father.

    My Dad was a WW2 veteran with a distinguished war record.
    I was born in 1944 so I didn’t get to know him until the war was over and I was about two and a half. I wish I could tell you his amazing military career but time and space on this blog would not be enough.

    He gave me the nickname Polly, (Polly put the kettle on, Susie take it off again) My family call me this and I love hearing it come from my grandchildren. It reminds me of him.
    I am told on his return it took some time for he and I to grow accustomed to each other but our love grew and was rich right until he passed away in 1997.

    He was a lawyer by profession. A man of words and wisdom. A man who would do legal work pro bono for the Italian migrant women who sought his aid. He worked for our returned soldiers.
    My Mother and I had a scratchy relationship and Dad was the peace keeper between us. If things got heated he would take me to the garden to inspect our vegetable patch or to his shed to see how his furniture making was progressing. I have two pieces of it in my home. He taught me to change tap washers, which way a screwdriver turned, how to swing a gate. We replaced the fresh water pipes to the house and he and I and my uncle replaced the terra cotta waste pipes from house to the back fence. I was in there learning the ins and outs of practical life. I was an only child so Dad and I had quite a bond.

    When my Mother died, Dad moved to my town and we had some great times together, he loved my children to bits. He lived nearby for 16 years. Precious times. He did not live long enough to see his grandchildren.

    He had a simple faith in God and encouraged me in my church activities. For this I am also grateful.

    I think of him many times a day and hope he has a garden patch and a shed with woodworking tools and a sunny spot with a cup of tea to read his newspaper.

    Rest in Peace Dad.


  38. Although, to be honest, I did wonder when I first read the post today why the focus is totally on Father’s Day. Not being a father, and not having had a good relationship with my own father, the whole subject leaves me cold. I understand why it’s natural to acknowledge it, even in an extended way, but the mono-focus doesn’t feel so natural.


  39. The difference: Those churches you are talking about treat Father’s Day with reverential and religious awe (though not nearly as much as Mother’s Day, since motherhood is invested by our culture, and especially our religious culture, with far more unrealistic idealism, setting a standard of expectations so high that disappointment and failure are guaranteed); but here at iMonk today, Father’s Day is being treated lightly, jokingly and irreverently. There’s a world of difference between the two.


  40. Fundagelicals are taken to task regularly in these environs for following cultural events more religiously than, well, their religious calendar. Yet here is a whole Saturday Brunch devoted to Father’s Day. Methinks the lady/chaplain doth protest too much. Of course, internetmonk is not a church. Or is it?


  41. Jim Gaffigan comes across as someone you could just hang out and have a beer with. Natural, organic humor that just flows out of living. Threre’s a lot about life that’s funny without much help.


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