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 Crane1 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.