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Fathers

  • When Father smiled, it was like the sun coming out, and spring and summer in your heart.

  • It's a wise father that knows his own child—hood.

  • Whenever I try to recall that long-ago first day at school only one memory shines through: my father held my hand.

  • One day I found in my hands the manuscript of a poem in my father's handwriting. He had died when I was only fifteen. We had been in love with each other ever since I could remember, but he had died while our minds were still separated by my immaturity.

  • Any mother with half a skull knows that when Daddy's little boy becomes Mommy's little boy, the kid is so wet he's treading water.

  • He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures ... but he was never in them.

  • Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father!

  • No music is so pleasant to my ears as that word — father.

  • All the feeling which my father could not put into words was in his hand — any dog, child or horse would recognize the kindness of it.

  • Like many other women, I could not understand why every man who changed a diaper has felt impelled, in recent years, to write a book about it.

  • ... he was generous with his affection, given to great, awkward, engulfing hugs, and I can remember so clearly the smell of his hugs, all starched shirt, tobacco, Old Spice and Cutty Sark. Sometimes I think I've never been properly hugged since.

  • Father. I write all my poems so I may bury you more kindly. / Father. I write all my poems to keep you alive.

    • Deborah Keenan,
    • "The July Twenty-Seventh, Nineteen-Seventy Nine," Household Wounds ()
  • My father is dead and I cannot turn him into a white rose, though I try.

  • My father, dead so long now, looms up as unexplored landscape, the mountains of the moon, a text that has lain in a drawer, undeciphered, for which I have had no Rosetta Stone.

  • ... a father had to work only half as hard as any mother to be considered twice as good.

  • ... beaming like a lesser god, / He bounced upon the earth he trod.

    • May Sarton,
    • "A Celebration for George Sarton," In Time Like Air ()
  • Dad could charm a dog off a meat wagon.

  • Children want to feel instinctively that their father is behind them as solid as a mountain, but, like a mountain, is something to look up to.

  • My father was often angry when I was most like him.

  • The sound of his father's voice was a necessity. He longed for the sight of his stooped shoulders as he had never, in the sharpest of his hunger, longed for food.

  • How sad that men would base an entire civilization on the principle of paternity, upon the legal owership and presumed responsibility for children, and then never really get to know their sons and daughters very well.

  • ... there was no fatherhood in him. He had to be viewed, to be considered, not as a father but as a man. His children were merely accidents which had befallen him.

  • The ghost of her potential father tormented her like a hunger for something which she knew had been invented or created solely by herself, but which she feared might never take human shape.

  • I love man as creator, lover, husband, friend, but man the father I do not trust. I do not believe in man as father. I do not trust man as father.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1934, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • Mother love is invariably held sacred, as it should be, but why has father love never had its due?

  • Scratch any father, you find / Someone chock-full of qualms and romantic terrors, / Believing change is a threat ...

  • Josephine had had a moment of absolute terror at the cemetery, while the coffin was lowered, to think that she and Constantia had done this thing without asking his permission. What would father say when he found out? For he was bound to find out sooner or later. He always did. 'Buried. You two girls had me buried!'

  • I wanted him [my father] to cherish and approve of me, not as he had when I was a child, but as the woman I was, who had her own mind and had made her own choices.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • "Split at the Root," Blood, Bread, and Poetry ()
  • Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. 'Stop!' cried the groaning old man at last, 'Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree.'

  • There is too much fathering going on just now and there is no doubt about it fathers are depressing. Everybody now-a-days is a father, there is father Mussolini and father Hitler and father Roosevelt and father Stalin and father Trotsky and father Blum and father Franco is just commencing now and there are ever so many more ready to be one. Fathers are depressing. England is the only country now that has not got one and so they are more cheerful there than anywhere. It is a long time now that they have not had any fathering and so their cheerfulness is increasing.

  • How I miss my father. / I wish he had not been / so tired / when I was / born.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "Poem at Thirty-Nine," Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful ()
  • ... every father knows at once too much and too little about his own son ...

  • To her the name of father was another name for love ...

  • ... in the days where daddy was / there is a space.

  • Thirty years ago, my sister, Gale (so named because a gale hit Boston Harbor the night she was born), some friends and I stole a boat in the middle of the night and sailed it out of the Santa Barbara harbor. Suddenly we were becalmed and the current began pushing us toward the breakwall. With no running lights and no power, we were dead in the water. Out of that darkness a steel hull appeared: it was the local Coast Guard cutter. My father, stern-faced and displeased, stood in the bow.

  • It doesn't matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.

    • Anne Sexton,
    • "All God's Children Need Radios," in Ms ()
  • He wrapt his little daughter in his large / Man's doublet, careless did it fit or no.

  • I should like you to know Papa — ah, you smile at my saying Papa — I am too old for such a baby-word I know — but he likes to be called so, and therefore I don't like to call him otherwise even in thought — I heard him say once 'If they leave off calling me "Papa," I shall think they have left off loving me.'

  • A week after my father died / suddenly I understood / his fondness for me was safe — nothing / could touch it. ... I suddenly thought, with amazement, he will always / love me now, and I laughed — he was dead, dead!

  • Like all children I had taken my father for granted. Now that I had lost him, I felt an emptiness that could never be filled. But I did not let myself cry, believing as a Muslim that tears pull a spirit earthward and won't let it be free.

  • Because he opposed her entering the convent, he had called for all the tempting things of life to speak to her where he had failed, unaware that what he was really putting into her like a probing pain was her last view of him tucking his napkin into the wing collar under his beard, smelling the wine cork before allowing the waiter to pour a drop and drinking the juice from the big rough oyster shells with gusty gourmet pleasure.

  • In my dreams / my father is always kind.

  • For twenty-seven years I was witness to the spiritual deterioration of my own father, watching day after day how everything human in him left him and how gradually he turned into a grim monument to his own self ...

  • No single living entity really influenced my life as did my father ... He lived as if he were poured from iron, and loved his family with a vulnerability that was touching.

    • Mari Evans,
    • in Mari Evans, ed., Black Women Writers ()
  • ... the minute you ask a man to tend his own baby you'd think it weren't no kin to him.

  • Perhaps in some cases the father, in his youth, was fit to be a father. But in his knock-kneed fifties, he is too hard headed for anything spiritual to spring from him. Then let his wife rotate the children crop just as sensible farmers rotate the crop of potatoes. Let her look about for a young father, fit to be perpetuated in a child. After all, I should think the baby crop is quite as important as the potato crop.

    • Isadora Duncan,
    • 1923, in Louise Bernikow, The American Women's Almanac ()
  • It was important, I know, for my father as a product of his times not to be vulnerable, so he chose, and I can't say that I blame him, to live his life rather than create it.

  • We criticize mothers for closeness. We criticize fathers for distance. How many of us have expected less from our fathers and appreciated what they gave us more? How many of us always let them off the hook?

  • It is not that fathers are better or worse, not that they are more loved or criticized, but rather that they are viewed with far less intensity. There is no Philip Roth or Woody Allen or Nancy Friday who writes about fathers with a runaway excess of humor, horror ... feeling. Most of us let our fathers off the hook.

  • How many of the people I know — sons and daughters — have intricate abstract expressionist paintings of their mothers, created out of their own emotions, attitudes, hands. And how many have only Polaroid pictures of their fathers.

  • ... all through my childhood, my father kept from me the knowledge that the daily papers printed daily box scores, allowing me to believe that without my personal renderings of all those games he missed while he was at work, he would be unable to follow our team in the only proper way a team should be followed, day by day, inning by inning. In other words, without me, his love for baseball would be forever incomplete.

    • Doris Kearns Goodwin,
    • in Peter H. Gordon et al., Diamonds Are Forever: Artists and Writers on Baseball ()
  • ... the paternal relation hardly begins at birth, as the mother's does. The father, who has suffered nothing, cannot shut his eyes to the physical ugliness and weakness, the clash of pain and effort, in which the future man begins; the mother, who has suffered everything, seems by a special spell of nature to feel nothing after the birth but the mystery and wonder of the new creature ... while I am half inclined to say, What! so little for so much? ... Altogether, I am disappointed in myself as a father. I seem to have no imagination, and at present I would rather touch a loaded torpedo than my son.

  • Her [mother's] constant care blurs into the maternal mists while his [father's] few alcohol rubs are as memorable as if they were anointments by a prophet.

  • [On her father:] ... in losing him I lost my greatest blessing and comfort, for he was always that to me ...

  • Down in the bottom of my childhood my father stands laughing.

  • ... he made no joke in his own home and he was seldom merry even with his own children. He was such a one as seemed to save all his good humor and his merry, lovable looks for strangers and for those who were not of his own house.

  • The history, the root, the strength of my father is the strength we / now rest on.

  • The mature, forty-five-year-old woman, quite experienced in matters of life and death, knows that it was 'for the best,' but Daddy's girl, who hung onto his belt and danced fox trots on the tops of his shoes, cannot accept that Daddy is not here anymore.

  • All fathers ... are invisible in daytime; daytime is ruled by mothers. But fathers come out at night. Darkness brings home the fathers, with their real, unspeakable power. There is more to them than meets the eye.

  • The void Papa's death left in me became a kind of cavity, into which later experiences were to be laid.

  • The separation had never really parted Mary and her father; they had never lost the habit of each other. You see those sympathies sometimes between father and daughter: inarticulate, usually, like the speech of rock to rock, but absolutely indestructible.

  • I grew to resent the way my father treated his furniture like children, and his children like furniture.

  • ... they didn't believe their father had ever been young; surely even in the cradle he had been a very, very small man in a gray suit, with a little dark mustache and flat, incurious eyes.

  • Father! blessed word.

  • When I was little, my father used to sell guns and ammo at a sporting goods store, but I always told everyone he was an arms dealer, because it sounded more exciting.

  • ... my mother ... gave us a look that my father always seemed to interpret as 'How lucky you girls are to have such an adventurous father,' but which I always read as 'One of you will probably not survive your father's enthusiasm. Most likely it will be Lisa, since she's smaller and can't run as fast ... '

  • My love for my father has never been touched or approached by any other love. I hold him in my heart of hearts as a man apart from all other men, as one apart from all other beings.

  • My heart is happy, my mind is free / I had a father who talked with me.

  • I want something from Daddy that he is not able to give me. ... It is only that I long for Daddy's real love: not only as his child, but for me — Anne, myself.

  • I ... received a few hugs and dutiful pecks on the cheek at bedtime, even a couple of 'thank-yous' thrown in for good measure. But I'd truly love for someone to explain why the father of my children can simply walk into the house, put down his briefcase, grunt 'Hi kids — howyadoing,' and all four offspring nearly hyperventilate trying to be the first to get close to him. They are crazy about this man, and all he has to do is walk into a room and breathe.

    • Becky Freeman,
    • in Becky Freeman and Ruthie Arnold, Marriage 911 ()
  • [On her father, Alexander II of Russia:] For two hours every evening, he read to us aloud, seated in his large leather arm-chair. A lamp with a green shade threw a peaceful light upon the pages of his book. The corners of the room and the outline of the objects were plunged in semi-darkness and the atmosphere was warm, soft, and intimate. He read well and with pleasure. My imagination, always alert, illustrated better than could any artist the colourful and intense tales of my mother tongue.

  • Oh my gloomy father, / why were you always so silent then ...

    • Ingeborg Bachmann,
    • "Curriculum Vitae," in Aliki Barnstone and Willis Barnstone, eds., A Book of Women Poets From Antiquity to Now ()
  • Everybody in America grew up without a father even if they had one. It was the fifties. They were working.

  • When daughters lose their dads, a special link with reality has been severed. Your first protector/disciplinarian/myth-maker has disappeared from your life forever. You're no-one's little girl any more.

  • If you're lucky, there are moments in life when you can look at your father with the same eyes you used as a child. When that happens, he is never less than heroic.

  • The good father never stops being a child.

  • My father walked with me, and still does walk, / Yet now, he reckons neither time nor space.

  • A guy's got to get a license to drive a Geo, but any doofus with a few good swimmers can be a father.

  • All I remember about Daddy is his presence, and that presence was perfect.

  • I could tell Daddy all the things that I kept secret from Mama.

  • Every day I grieve / for your great heart broken and you gone.

  • ... my growing realization that the idealized father of my childhood was a myth of my own making had a disastrous effect on me. ... it is one thing to read a Dickens novel and quite another to have a Micawber in the family.

  • ... he can snare / The future in his net of deeds that bite / Reality ...

    • Mary O'Connor,
    • "Man of Stature," in Katie May Gill, ed., Father ()
  • My dear father! When I remember him, it is always with his arms open wide to love and comfort me.

  • My father's harmonica / cried, crooned, and cajoled us / ... / we forgot the handouts, / the hunger for what he / could never give. / My father's harmonica / wailed, wooed, and whistled, / freeing our hearts from wishing.

  • It was your silence that hooked me, / so like my father's.

  • I laughed once in my father's face, / and he laughed, and the two laughters / locked like bumpers / that still rust away between us.

    • Linda Pastan,
    • "Between Generations," A Perfect Circle of Sun ()
  • Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes.

  • ... he thought, like all other fathers, that I was younger and sillier than himself at the same age.

  • ... Daddy knows better...he has eaten more salt than I have eaten rice ....

  • ... a daughter's love for a kind father ... is mixed with the careless happiness of childhood, which can never come again. Into the father's grave the daughter, sometimes a gray-haired woman, lays away forever the little pet names and memories which to all the rest of the world are but foolishness.

  • Early on, my abandoning father had set the pattern of my love life on the loom of my subconscious.

  • As long as fathers rule but do not nurture, as long as mothers nurture but do not rule, the conditions favoring the development of father-daughter incest will prevail.

  • [On her stepfather:] We were totally at war the whole time I was a teen-ager. It was some kind of Freudian thing: I grew breasts and he lost his mind.

    • Lamar Van Dyke,
    • in Ariel Levy, "Lesbian Nation," The New Yorker ()
  • We are all children until our fathers die.

  • When I think about my father, the first image that comes to mind is holding his hand as he drove me to the train station six weeks before he died; I had never noticed how beautiful his hands were until I saw them, for the first and last time, entwined in mine.

  • Finding out about fathers is not easy. It's only in the last twenty years that they have been considered by the psychological community as much more than the 'other' parent, taking a very distant second place to Mom.

  • Four people, four lives that boiled down to one life and that was my father's. What occupied him was what occupied us.

  • It was my father's hand that opened wide / The door to poetry, where printed line / Became alive ...

  • [On her father's death:] Gone was the person who had known me better than anyone else on earth and who had loved and admired me unconditionally since the day I was born.

  • We learn from experience. A man never wakes up his second baby just to see it smile.

  • My father was a lot like my first pony, Bunty. Both returned my love with a mean bite.