Father - Fragments of a Eulogy
Father - Fragments of a Eulogy
that is the man who, to use the plain and honest language of the Bible, begot a child by the woman who is his wife. Being a father brings worries, it may cause grey hair, but it contains elements that make the heart stay young. There are many of them, fathers of sometimes sizeable families, who remained young at heart — or even gained youthfulness — from their fatherhood.
that is the man who is allowed to hold his newborn child and who looks at this new treasure with a mixture of amazed love and confused alarm about that little red face and those tiny wrinkled hands;
… that is the man who takes it all in stride that he is the last to be served, after the guests;
… that is the man who will soon be restored to his just and rightful position, when Mother sits with him at table again, the crib in between them.
that is the man who fills out the forms necessary to record the child as one of the citizens of the nation;
… that is the man who requests the consistory to arrange for the baptism of his little one, because as heir of the Kingdom of God and of His covenant he ought to be baptized.
that is the man who does not awaken until Mother gets up for the fifth time tonight to try and soothe that screaming little bundle and then sleepily asks if there is anything he can do;
… that is the man who at the end of the week puts his pay envelope in the apron pocket of the Mother of-the-house and then remembers that he again forgot to buy that replacement baby bottle.
that is the man who stays at home when Mother goes to church on Sunday and who changes diapers with more or less success and reads a book with more or less edification, and then, thus unedified, contemplates the seriousness and the simpleness of life, while his gaze wanders down the road to see if Mother is not coming back yet to give food to the little man and restore the sense of balance to the big man.
Father. . .
that is the man who wrestles in prayer for that precious life, when the child lies motionless with high fevers and Mother sobs;
… that is the big strong man on whom Mother always relies, who now senses his complete dependence on the Almighty to whom he calls from the depth of his soul;
… that is the man who takes you by the hand and walks with you into that big world and who is not at all afraid of all those strange people, so that you feel so safe beside him.
that is the man who talks to Mother while you are in bed — you know they are talking about you and the stunts you have pulled — and it seems they don't quite agree. But then they come into your room, and they say: "Look, he is asleep already." And Father straightens out your blanket and Mother bends over to kiss you. "I was not much different," Father admits; Mother does not reply. Then you really shut your eyes tight, just to make sure that they won't know you have heard it.
that is the king in the house. When everything goes wrong and there is general confusion, the undisturbed ways of Father, who quietly and steadily appraises the situation, makes you feel so secure.
… that is the prophet in the house. He sits at his place of honor — or rather, where Father sits that is the place at the table — where three times a day the whole family's attention is directed as he reads from God's Word;
… that is the priest in the house. We fold our hands and close our eyes, but he speaks to God in prayer. O, you don't always listen very well — that prayer is so common — but ... if Father is not home sometimes, then there is suspense: who will replace him?
that is the man who is so faithfully cared for by Mother, when he is sick in bed.
And then the people will ask you, "How is your father?"
And it sounds so strange when big people talk to you about your father, as if you were a separate person existing apart from your father ... and then you just say, "Oh, he is doing fine!"
that is the man who is so genuinely pleased that you passed your grade at school, and yet shows no excitement. It seems as if he had counted on it and as if he is looking forward to a step in the future that will make you achieve your goal in your chosen vocation.
that is the man who can look straight through you when you want to hide something that has set your whole life on fire, and who can talk in such a sober tone about you and the girl who has become the sunshine in your life.
that is the man who now begins to retreat to the background, who sometimes meets you in the street and who occasionally comes for a visit, as if he were a stranger. And then ... he goes back to his own home.
still so familiar. You know, this is what we have done, and this is how much I am short to complete it. Do you think you ... Or: Look, these are the figures; what would you think if I bought that business?
who is now on his way down. He is no longer the strong one; I have to help him into the car. He is no longer full of courage; he is a broken man when we have to bring mother to the grave. He is no longer the source of wisdom but the old man who keeps repeating the same old anecdotes; no longer the King, but the patient who needs help to get into bed; no longer the reader at table, but the deaf one who tries to pick up the odd word of what is being read; no longer the priest, but the one for whom prayers are said.
Where did the time go?⤒🔗
The life together with Mother, the days of tension surrounding the children's birth, the trials and the cares, the joys and the burdens, the sound advice and the embarrassment, the fears and the deliverances, where have they gone?
And his authority and his strength and his ability and his house and his whole world ... gone!
But seen then, around his bed. There they are, his children, all in tears; his children because they are Mother's whom the Lord God has given him; for whom he has at one time requested the sacrament of baptism.
And now they pray for him, the one who has nothing left, the man who goes to his eternal home ... And when the shadows grow black over him, they bend down over his tired old face and sob: Father! Daddy!
The End. Funeral directors, burial customs, a solemn procession, an open pit, a sad assembly ... "And they buried him with his fathers."
Some forms to fill out, some clerical duties and ... life carries on.
A portrait on the wall showing a man in old-fashioned clothes. A blond curly head with the cutest little dress crawls on a chair and points: Look!
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