I read this this morning....

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.....while I was eating my oatmeal. It was in the new incarnation of Life that is appearing in our Friday newspaper. It is part of a letter written by "celebrated writer" (I don't know who he is) Tim O'Brien, who an older father, to his 16-month-old son, Timmy. The whole letter is touching, but especially this part:

More than that, I long for the day when you might also forgive me. I waited too long, Timmy. Until the late afternoon of June 20, 2003, I had defined myself, for better and for worse, by the novels and stories I had written. I had sought myself in sentences. I had loved myself only insofar as I loved a chapter or a scene or a scrap of dialogue. This is not to demean my life or my writing. I do hope you will someday read the books and stories; I hope you will find my ghost in those pages, my best self, the man I would wish to be for you. Call it pride, call it love, but I even dare to hope that you will commit a line or two to memory, for in the dream-space behind those vowels and consonants is the sound of your father's voice, the kid I once was, the man I now am, the old man I will soon become.

That said, I would trade every syllable of my life's work for an extra 5 or 10 years with you, whatever the going rate might be. A father's chief duty is not to instruct or to discipline. A father's chief duty is to be present. And I yearn to be with you forever, always present, even knowing it cannot and will not happen.

Now THAT is lovely.

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An excerpt from a letter by Tim O'Brien found at Summa Mamas. It is really beautiful. Please go and read it. I'm stealing this part for my letter to Samuel-- "That said, I would trade. . .my life's work for... Read More


Dear MamaT,

That is lovely. Thank you.



Speaking as a father, this guy just captured the essence of Catholic fatherhood in one sentence.

That said, I would trade every syllable of my life's work for an extra 5 or 10 years with you, whatever the going rate might be.

Thanks for pointing it out.

God bless,


I had just been thinking, for the first time, how my father must have felt when I was 2 and my siblings ere teenagers and he had to have heart surgery, and how he must have felt during the months of serious illness that preceded his semi-sudden death from a heart attack when I was 7. When he found out my mother was pregnant with me after 10 years as the parents of 2, he was thrilled, and he also felt young again. It took having my own 2-year-old and 8-week-old to think about how he must have felt about the possibility of leaving us -- and how that must have added to my mother's grief.

To paraphrase: I wish I could spend the nect fifty years with my lips to your cheek, my eyes warming in yours. Okay, I'm tearing up again . . .

I am absolutely in love with that piece. I read it yesterday and then I read it again and again. I thought of my husband, who is not old, but frequently tells our children: I am so in love with you. It's true what they say: real men are fathers.

Mr. O'Brien is a talented author though I find his politics somewhat left of my own, I have always appreciated his style.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on October 15, 2004 6:25 AM.

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