Some of you may remember Paul Harvey’s radio broadcasts with “the rest of the story.” I don’t know, are those still on any more? I found this some years back and love it: it’s one of my favorite pieces about fathers (though of course the theology here and there is off — but I am posting it for the sentiment about fathers).
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 laughs loud when it’s scared half to death.
A father never feels entirely worthy of worship in his child’s eyes. He never is 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 school grades aren’t as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son although he knows it’s the teacher’s fault.
Fathers grow old faster than other people.
And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers 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 is inside. Fathers give daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who 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…where they tackle the dragon with three heads: Weariness, Work and Monotony.
Knights in shining armor.
Fathers make bets with insurance companies about who will 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.
And one day they lose.
But fathers enjoy an earthly immortality and the bet is paid off to the part of him he leaves behind.
I don’t know where fathers go when they die. But I have an idea that after a good rest, he won’t be happy unless there is 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…oiling the gates, smoothing the way.