Father. Fathers loved and fathers feared, close fathers and distant fathers, famous fathers and "ordinary" fathers. No matter what the relationship, he's special. In the remembrances that follow, Times writers tell something of what that relationship has meant.
I underwent some fairly serious surgery this winter and came to the realization that I couldn't nurse myself back to health alone. I toyed with the idea of hiring someone. But after finding out the cost of six weeks' worth of convalescence, I called up my parents and announced I was putting myself under their care.
It would be the first time I'd seen them in four years.
They met me at the airport and helped me hobble out to the car. Right away, I could see that my mother was taking the whole thing in stride. After all, we kept in regular phone contact.
Lots to Catching Up to Do
But my father was a different story. The moment we kissed, I realized how little chance we had to really talk and how much catching up there was for us to do.
For the first week, I could do little but sleep. But after I started to regain some strength, I became aware that every time I left my room to get a drink or just stretch my legs, my father was close behind. He became my shadow.
I don't think he did it on purpose. In fact, I don't think he was even aware of it. But there were moments when I would catch him coming into my room, sitting down in the easy chair across the way from my bed and just looking at me.
"Yeah, Dad? Did you come in for anything?" I'd ask.
"No, nothing in particular," he'd reply. And then he'd stay a little while longer. And then he'd wander off.
At the time, I was puzzled by his behavior and frankly, a little annoyed at what I saw as a violation of my "space." But I think I understand it now.
For years, his youngest daughter had been just a disembodied voice on the telephone. And it disturbed him that she had arrived home a virtual stranger. He knew we probably would never have six weeks under the same roof again.
So he just wanted to quietly reacquaint himself with both the little girl he once knew and the grown woman he saw now.
Dad, I'm glad you did.