Life moves in cycles, from the innocence and honest trusting of a child, a hand held in ours, a boy walking with us. Time shifts the scenes—sometimes to restlessness, perhaps a little aloofness. The seasons pass—sometimes to stubbornness and self-assurance, and sometimes some pulling away from parents. Then back again, as time mellows and matures—hopefully with humility, and a turning once again with gratitude to those who would have spared us much, if only sooner we had learned to let them. Some years ago Frank Crane 1 wrote some lines on this tender searching subject, from which we select some sentences:
I am writing this to you though you have been dead thirty years. I feel I must say some things to you … things I didn’t know when I was a boy in your house. It’s only now, after passing through the long hard school years, only now, when my own hair is gray, that I understand how you felt.
I must have been a trial to you. I believed my own petty wisdom. Most of all I want to confess my worst sin against you. It was the feeling I had that you did not understand. When I look back over it now, I know that you did understand. You understood me better than I understood myself. And how patient you were! How pathetic, it now comes to me, were your efforts to get close to me. What was it held me aloof? I don’t know. But it is tragic that a wall rises between a boy and his father.
I wish that you were here now, across the table from me, just for an hour, so I could tell you how there’s no wall any more. I understand you now, Dad, and how I love you and wish I could go back and be your boy again.
Well, it won’t be long, Dad, till I am over there, and I believe you’ll be the first one to take me by the hand and help me. I know that among the richest, most priceless things on earth, and the thing least understood, is that mighty love and tenderness and craving to help which a father feels toward his boy. For I have a boy of my own. Up there somewhere in the Silence, hear me, Dad, and believe me.