June 19, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 12

The wisdom of a child - remembered

Letters to the Editor

A time long past, I was the contract city administrator for a small town in Oregon. Weekly, my young son (Joshua) and I would make the round trip journey from Seattle to Eugene … sometimes driving — sometimes on the Amtrak commuter train. I remember one of those trips more than the others.

Joshua was jabbering without stop. A bit about this, some about that, more about nothing, less about anything … insistent and persistent chatter. Those of you parents that know your child, know my point! Then in the mix of gibberish I caught the words, “Papa, I love you.”

At first I just gratuitously acknowledged the comment with an “I love you too, Joshua,” but then I realized that these words needed more from me. A few miles later and then I asked in response, “Why do you love me, Joshua?” He fell silent for a time, bringing me a long overdue respite from his chatter! I watched as he thought and pondered and wondered … his bright blue-grey eyes sometimes closed, sometimes wide open and darting about — sometimes looking upward as if for some divine intervention, and often looking downward for help with possibly a flip comeback. I was inwardly smiling and pleased with myself for seemingly stumping a 4-year-old!

But then, and with a certainty of purpose and a perfect choice of words, he responded, “Papa, it’s just a given.” Now who was stumped and at a loss for meaningful words? Now who was left to think and wonder and ponder? Certainly not Joshua, for he had conveyed the truth of his heart — he had given me an unfiltered reality that was honest and wise. He, by the way, just as quickly, and with no obvious segue, went on about his chatter including demeaning comments about my driving!

The love of a parent for his child (and that which is returned) is expected by our very nature, it is from the core of our morality and does not require analysis — “it’s just a given.” That innocent trust, and the natural understanding that a child has for parental love, carries with it a splendid responsibility. It requires love, and from that we are rewarded by the immortality of hope … not the hope of immortality.

To be a parent (a father) is such an honor that it is hard to imagine being noticed by a day in the year called “Father’s Day.” Every day of my years has been a father’s day! Every day that I am a father is a sacred blessing for which I am thankful.

Be well and “Happy Father’s Days!”

Greg Wilder

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