What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

A tribute to fathers

We interrupt our usual political, philosophical, and other programing to bring you a tribute to fathers, and, since I am writing the piece, this will be in part a tribute to my father, Mr. Henry W. of Chicago.

Why do little girls like to watch their fathers work with their hands? I don't know the answer, but I shouldn't be at all surprised if it were something close to a human universal. My daughters like to watch my husband work at his book-binding hobby, and when I was a little girl, I thought there were few things more interesting than watching my father try to fix things around the house or work at wood finishing projects.

Before he retired, my father was a wood finisher. But despite the fact that he worked very hard at his job, five days a week, he still sometimes found time to do extra projects for other people for a little extra money. He would charge what he called his "Christian rate" to Christian friends. I remember in particular a little drop-leaf table that he refinished for my piano teacher. It seemed to take a long time, and I didn't mind that at all. I don't remember what kind of wood it was, but I loved to watch the whole process. He stripped it and sanded it using gradually finer and finer sandpaper until it was silk-smooth, then he built the finish back up. As I remember it (but it's been many years), it was originally dark, too dark, and it ended up much lighter with the lovely wood grain showing. I don't remember what we talked about. I probably talked most of the time, but that was okay with him.

(And in passing, I remember and honor another man who worked with his hands for hours while children watched--Uncle Walt Kronemeyer, who used to sit cross-legged at Camp Manitoumi making beautiful elephants out of catalpa wood.)

There were other things to watch Dad do--household repairs. These were enlivened by the fact that Dad has little patience with what he considers to be the inferior materials out of which all modern furniture and gadgets are made. Dad never swears, but "what the dickens" is not swearing, and I heard it a lot: "What the dickens were they thinking, making this thing this way?"

On all weekdays, my father was gone in the dark before I was awake. He had a long ride on the bus to his job. In the winter, it was after dark before he got home, too, but my recollection is that he was almost always home in time for us all to have dinner together. One year when I was very young (still in my crib, as I recall it), he went straight to a deacons' meeting at church after work and was not home until late. I demanded to be allowed to stay awake until he came home. I can't recall if I was genuinely worried about him or merely being dictatorial--most likely the latter. But I was allowed to stay up, looking at a Bible picture book, until he came home, and I consented to go to bed.

With telecommuting, flex-time, and other modern inventions, it is sometimes common for people to think of men who work as hard as my father did as being too much absent from their families, but that was never how it seemed. His hours were regular, and he dedicated himself to his family during his off time. (Indeed, I think he did not serve on the board of deacons for very long for that very reason.)

Saturday mornings when I was little were cheerful. No school for my brother and me and no job for Dad, so I got to sleep in and often awoke to the sound of whistling. (To what extent this is a coincidence, I don't know, but my husband is also a great whistler and the envy of his children and students for his whistling.) Dad loved Saturdays and did not try to tiptoe about on a Saturday morning, which was just fine. Sometimes he made pancakes, and it's a funny thing, but the silver dollar ones tasted the best of all.

By this time, you may be wondering where all of this is going, so I should be clear: It isn't going anywhere in particular. If you are a father and are giving your children these sorts of memories, I suggest that you are doing something very right, and I tip my hat to you. It's my opinion that Father's Day should not be a day for lecturing fathers on the heaviness of their responsibilities, as though prima facie they were not fulfilling them. It should be a day for thanking them from the heart.

Gratitude and honor to all good fathers, including my father and my husband. Those of us who have known loving fatherhood do not know where we would be without it.

Comments (7)


These were enlivened by the fact that Dad has little patience with what he considers to be the inferior materials out of which all modern furniture and gadgets are made. Dad never swears, but "what the dickens" is not swearing, and I heard it a lot

My children have become convinced that most design engineers are morons. Although they have caught me swearing a handful of times, they have heard my exasperated "MORONS!!" refrain endlessly...especially when fixing or installing light fixtures, which seem to be designed to require three hands at once, and all of them inside the small electrical box at the same time. They were surprised last month, though, when I put a ceiling fan in the boys' bedroom: some brilliant engineer had pity on us poor installers, and designed a bracket tab & slot to hold the weight during the installation process. No "MORONS!" that time. Kids were shocked.

Sometimes he made pancakes, and it's a funny thing, but the silver dollar ones tasted the best of all.

My dad was gone before anyone else but me was up, not only on his work days, but also on his days off. I am like him in this respect, I am a morning person. But my kids do see me about 10 times more than I saw my dad, since I can telecommute 1/3 of the time. I am the breakfast cook around here, and when I make pancakes the girls always insist on "baby ones". Somehow, they keep looking for smaller and smaller ones, so they have ended up the size of dimes sometimes. Pain in the neck to flip.

I give God thanks for my father, who gave me much.

I'm grinning at the thought of the kids commenting: "Hey, Dad, you didn't say 'Morons!' this time."

Yeah: "No, Mom, he couldn't have put up the fixture, we didn't hear any "morons" from that room."

Thanks for sharing your memories, Lydia. I love it when people do so, as it adds weight to one's own lovely memories to know that there are many good men loving their wives and children and honoring their own fathers.

Thanks, Beth.

Amen to all this, friends.

Post a comment

Bold Italic Underline Quote

Note: In order to limit duplicate comments, please submit a comment only once. A comment may take a few minutes to appear beneath the article.

Although this site does not actively hold comments for moderation, some comments are automatically held by the blog system. For best results, limit the number of links (including links in your signature line to your own website) to under 3 per comment as all comments with a large number of links will be automatically held. If your comment is held for any reason, please be patient and an author or administrator will approve it. Do not resubmit the same comment as subsequent submissions of the same comment will be held as well.