Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

To make Comments write directly to Jim at jimt@quixotic.ca

 

Published on Friday, June 25, 2021

What’s a father anyway?

Thursday June 17, 2021

 

It’s Father’s Day this weekend. 

            My daughter, a single parent, is trying to be both a mother and a father to her children. She asked me, the other day, “What does it mean to be a father?”

            There are only two things I can say for sure. 

            One is that being a father is not limited to being male. 

            The second is that supplying sperm does not make one a father. Indeed, any male who later claims that merely having provided an aggressive sperm gives him a right to control a child’s life should be run out of town on a rail.

            I learned about being a father from – who else – my own father. 

            Sixty or so years ago, when I learned I would be a father, I sought my parents’ advice. Dad was sitting at our dining room table, marking term papers; Ma was polishing silver. 

            “Be like your father,” Ma advised. “You’ll do fine if you’re as consistent as he has been.” 

            I was watching my father as she spoke. At her first words, he swelled momentarily with pleasure. Then he deflated. I suspect he was expecting a more flattering adjective. Perhaps “loving” or “devoted” rather than “consistent.” 

            My father was the most open-minded, level-headed, even-tempered person I have known. If I wanted advice, he always listened first. He never made me feel stupid or unworthy.

            Even though he strongly opposed gambling, he helped me run off raffle tickets on his office mimeograph (a primitive forerunner of the copying machine).

            But his life as a principal, professor, and pastor kept him busy. Sadly, he often just wasn’t there. 

 

Shortcomings

            I resolved to be different. In some ways I was. I spent far more time with my children than he did with me. We went camping, hiking, cycling. We were active in Scouts and Guides. We worked on community projects. 

            I got to know various deep-frozen hockey rinks very early in the mornings, and very late at night. 

            But when I look back with the clarity of hindsight, I think the adjective that would apply to me would be “resentful,” rather than “consistent.”

            To some extent, my fathering was defined for me by our son’s diagnosis of cystic fibrosis – hereditary, genetic, incurable, and terminal. My wife and I shared two hours of physiotherapy every single day, just to keep him breathing. 

            I resented that time. I couldn’t use it to advance my own career as a writer and editor. 

            My daughter, I regret to say, got whatever time was left over. 

            “Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” the King James Bible admonishes. No, I wasn’t perfect. No father is. 

 

Under the circumstances…

            A line from a vintage ABBA song seems more relevant: “Knowing me, knowing you, it’s the best we can do.”

            What my father and I have in common, I think, I hope, is that we did the best we could do, in our lives and situations. 

            I’m still not a perfect father. But I no longer have career aspirations getting in the way of being a better parent. An old piece of folk wisdom says that children are what help their parents grow up. So I keep trying. 

            Knowing me, it’s the best I can do. 

*****************************************

Copyright © 2021 by Jim Taylor. Non-profit use in congregations and study groups, and links from other blogs, welcomed; all other rights reserved.

            To comment on this column, write jimt@quixotic.ca

*****************************************

 

YOUR TURN

 

I neglected an important line that I should have included in last week’s column – the reason I was in quarantine. My daughter contracted Covid-19. I had no symptoms, wasn’t sick, but I had been in contact with her. So, two weeks isolation. 

 

Thanks to all those who offered encouragement in finding straying coffee cups. My almost-brother Ralph Milton was glad to know that someone else leaves coffee cups inside the microwave, and doesn’t find them until it’s time to warm up the next cup. 

            Thanks also to all those who wrote feeling glad that we seniors can laugh at ourselves occasionally. 

 

Sandy Warren doesn’t lose coffee cups, “but oh those glasses!” Sandy added, “I loved the Psalm 20 paraphrase.”

 

Ruth Buzzard hasn’t been in formal quarantine, but the effects are much the same:  “I have taken up investing on the stock market to keep my brain active and make pots of money (hopefully). I wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. on weekdays to tune into the stock market channel.  Make my first cup of coffee and get out my computer to check opening prices and expert reviews.  Read, read, read.   Market opening at 6:30 a.m., check prices of shares I own, think about buying or selling, decide to do nothing, fall asleep till 9 a.m., check shares again, get up and start day. Check closing prices on my watchlist at 1:00 p.m. and mark them down.  Think about what I will trade or not trade tomorrow. Read, read, read.

            “So far, so good, financially. Exciting, and an excellent pastime for an elderly lady, and sure beats card games and knitting.”

 

Bob Rollwagen hasn’t gotten out much either: “We don’t have cable TV here, so no CNN. Peace and quiet! Daily walks and lots of little insignificant projects that are long overdue. The gardens have never looked so good.”

 

*****************************************

 

Psalm paraphrase

 

For this paraphrase of Psalm 9, I used the metaphor of God sitting in the lifeguard’s chair at a beach, although I would more likely expect God to be in the water with us. 

 

9          God watches over the beach of life
from the lifeguard’s chair;
we feel safe venturing into the water. 

10        Lifeguards have taken training.
They know how to watch out for trouble --
for sharks in the water,
and sharks among the sunbathers on the sands.
They will not be distracted from their duty.

11        Thank God for lifeguards.
Thank God for playground supervisors, and crossing guards,
and counsellors who keep us from destroying ourselves.

12        They may have their own troubles, but they do not
let those troubles interfere with their care for us.

 

15        Sharks will turn on themselves, eventually.
They had all the aces, but they played their hands wrong.
They wanted a windfall, so they bought Bre-X and Enron.
Gutted by their own greed, they will sink to the bottom.

16        This is how the Lord of the universe works.
The Lord does not need bolts of lightning or colliding continents
to execute judgement.
The sharks who slither among us
define their own downfall.

17        They become a footnote to history.

 

18        But the poor and the weak,
the oppressed and the marginalized –
they carry on. They will not be forgotten.
Hope, like the sun, rises new every day. 

19        Rise, O Hope of the world.
Do not let the sharks take over the beach. 

20        Scatter them; break up their alliances and consortiums.
Let them know that order reigns over chaos. 

 

You can find paraphrases of most of the psalms in the Revised Common Lectionary in my book Everyday Psalmsavailable from Wood Lake Publishing, info@woodlake.com.

 

*******************************************

 

TECHNICAL STUFF

 

If you want to comment on something, send a message directly to me, jimt@quixotic.ca.

            To subscribe or unsubscribe, send an e-mail message to jimt@quixotic.ca. Or you can subscribe electronically by sending a blank e-mail (no message or subject line) to softedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca. Similarly, you can un-subscribe at softedges-unsubscribe@lists.quixotic.ca.

            I write a second column each Sunday called Sharp Edges, which tends to be somewhat more cutting about social and justice issues. To sign up for Sharp Edges, write to me directly, jimt@quixotic.ca, or send a note to sharpedges-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca

            And for those of you who like poetry, please check my webpage .https://quixotic.ca/My-Poetry I posted several new poetic works there a few weeks ago. If you’d like to receive notifications about new poems, write me at jimt@quixotic.ca, or subscribe yourself to the list by sending a blank email (no message) to poetry-subscribe@lists.quixotic.ca (If it doesn’t work, please let me know.)

 

********************************************

 

PROMOTION STUFF

 

To use the links in this section, you’ll have to insert the necessary symbols. Some spam filters have blocked my posts because they’re suspicious of the web links.

            Wayne Irwin's “Churchweb Canada,” an inexpensive service for any congregation wanting to develop a web presence, with free consultation. http://wwwDOTchurchwebcanadaDOTca He’s also relatively inexpensive!

            I recommend Isabel Gibson’s thoughtful and well-written blog, wwwDOTtraditionaliconoclastDOTcom. She also has lots of beautiful photos. Especially of birds.

            Tom Watson writes a weekly blog called “The View from Grandpa Tom’s Balcony” -- ruminations on various subjects, and feedback from Tom’s readers. Write him at tomwatsoATgmailDOTcom (NB that’s “watso” not “watson”)

 

ALVA WOOD’S ARCHIVE

            I have acquired (don’t ask how) the complete archive of the late Alva Wood’s collection of satiric and sometimes wildly funny columns about a mythical village’s misadventures. I’ve put them on my website: http://quixotic.ca/Alva-Wood-Archive. You’re welcome to browse. No charge. (Although maybe if I charged a fee, more people would find the archive worth visiting.)

 

 

Comments (0)Number of views (41)

Author: Jim Taylor

Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Fathers, Fathers'Day

Print

Tags

"gate of the year" #MeToo 150th birthday 1950s 1954 1972 1984 215 3G 9/11 A God That Could Be Real abduction abortion Abrams abuse achievement Adam addiction Addis Ababa adoption Adrian Dix affirmative action aging agnostics Ahriman Ahura Mazda airlines airport killings Alabama albinism albinos Alexa algorithms Allegations allies Almighty Almighty God alone ALS alt-right altruism Amanda Gorman Amanda Todd Amazon American empire Amerika Amherst amnesia analysis Andrea Constant Andrew Copeland Taylor anger animals anniversaries Anthropocene antidote Ants aphrodisiac Apologies apoptosis App Store Archives Ardern Aristotle armistice Armstrong Army and Navy stores Art artifacts artists ashes Asian assisted death astronomy atheists atonement atropine Attawapiscat attitudes attraction audits Aunt Jemima authorities authorities. Bible autism automation autumn B.C. election B.C. Health Ministry B.C. Legislature B-2 baby Bach bad news baggage Bahai Banda banning books Baptism Barabbas barbed wire barbers barriers Bashar al Assad BC BC Conference Beans bears beauty Beaver Beethoven beginnings behaviour bel-2 belief systems beliefs belonging benefits Bernardo Berners-Lee berries Bible biblical sex Biden Bill C-6 billboards billionaire BioScience birds birth birthday birthdays Bitcoin Black history Blackmore blessings blockades blood blood donations blood donors Bloomberg Blue Christmas boar body Bohr bolide Bolivia Bolivian women BOMBHEAD bombing bombings bombs books border patrol borrowing both/and bottom up Bountiful Brahms brain development brains Brazil breath breathe breathing Brexit broken Bruce McLeod bubbles Buber Buddha Buddhism Bulkley bulldozers bullets bullying burials bush pilots butterflies butterfly Calendar California Cambridge Analytica. Facebook cameras campfire Canada Canada Day Canadian Blood services Canal Flats cancer Canute Capitol Capp caregivers Caribbean caring Carnaval. Mardi Gras carousel cars Carter Commission cash cats cave CBC CD Cecil the lion. Zanda CentrePiece CF chance change Charlie Gard Charlottesville Charter of Compassion Checklists checkups chemical weapons Chesapeake Bay Retriever Chesterton Child Advocacy Centre child trafficking children Chile Chile. Allende China chivalry chocolates choice choices choirs Christchurch Christian Christianity Christians Christina Rossetti Christine Blasey Ford Christmas Christmas Eve Christmas gathering Christmas lights Christmas tree Christmas trees Christopher Plummer church churches circle of life Clarissa Pinkola Estés Clichés cliffhanger climate change clocks close votes clouds Coastal GasLink coastal tribes coffee coincidence collaboration collective work colonial mindset colonies Colten Boushie Columbia River Columbia River Treaty comfort communication Communion community compassion complexity composers composting computer processes conception conclusions Confederacy Confederate statues confessions confidence Confirmation confusion Congo Congress Conrad Black consciousness consensual consent conservative Conservative Party conspiracies conspiracy constitution contraception contrasts Conversations conversion therapy copyright coral Cornwallis corona virus coronavirus corporations corruption Corrymeela Cosby Cougars counter-cultural Countercurrents couple courtesy courts Covenant Coventry Cathedral COVID-19 CPP CPR CRA Craig crashes Crawford Bay creation creche credit credit cards creeds cremation crescent Creston crime criminal crossbills cross-country skiing Crows crucifixion Cruelty crypto-currencies Cultural appropriation cuneiform Curie curling cutbacks cyberbullying Cystic Fibrosis Dalai Lama Damocles Dan Rather dancing Danforth dark matter darkness Darren Osburne Darwin data mining daughter David David Suzuki de Bono dead zone deaf deafness death death survival deaths debt decision decisions decorations deficit Definitions Delhi Dementia democracy Democratic denial Denny's departure Depression Derek Chauvin Descartes Desiderata despair determinism Devin Kelley dew dawn grass Diana Butler-Bass dinosaurs discontinuities discussion dissent distancing diversity division divorce dog dogs dominance Don Cherry Donald Trump donkey Donna Sinclair doorways Doug Ford Doug Martindale Dr. Keith Roach Dr. Seuss dreaming dreams Drugs ducks Duvalier dying Dylan Thomas earth Earth Day Easter Eat Pray Love Ebola e-cigarettes eclipse economics Eden editing editing by committee Edwards-Sawatzky ego Egypt eight-track tapes Einstein either/or election Elizabeth Gilbert Ellithorpe email embassy emergent emotions Empire encryption English Entropy environment epiphany epitaph Erika van Oyen erosion Esteban Santiago eternal life eternity ethics Ethiopia Eucharist eulogy eunuchs evacuation evacuation orders Evangelical Fellowship Eve Evelyn Glennie Every Note Played everything evil Evolution Exodus expectations experience experiment exploring explosions extinction extinctions extradition extremes extremism eye for an eye Eyes Facebook fairness faith falling leaves False Creek Farmworkers fascist fate Father Knows Best fatherless Fathers Father's Day Fathers'Day fear Fearless Fosdick feathers Fedex feel feminine hygiene Fentanyl Ferrier Fibonacci Field figure skating Fire fireball
Copyright 2021 by Jim Taylor  |  Powered by: Churchweb Canada