Friday, January 18, 2008

Dad by the Hour

I was the feast day of the Holy Family, just a few weeks back. It has always been special to me because It was our Family's patron Saint Feast day, per order of my father. Every year my father used to give an offering for a Mass to be said for our family's intentions. I some ways, it was more difficult for me to be away from home for my first absence at this celebration than it was to miss Christmas for the first time.
This year, the homily was especially striking because it started with a story that I had not heard before. I bring this out because at my age, a person has heard plenty of stories, in and out of church; in and out of the armed forces; in and out of school; in and out of bars and finally, in and out of the work place. So it takes a good story to get me to sit down and invite the world to listen to it. So, now that I have got this far, and you too, stick with it. It won't take long to get to the bottom line.

One day and young boy of 10 years old approached his father after supper, just before the father sat down to go over the latest emails that were arriving from the Asian offices.
"Dad," the young man deferentially began, "how much money do you make every hour?"
The father was shocked at such a daring question from such a young boy. He was also shocked because the boy was always polite and respectful to father and mother. So he decided to give him a gentle lesson.
"Son, that is not a question that I answer in this house. Even your mother doesn't ask me that. Even your mother does not know how much money I am paid for every hour."
The boy, much to his father's surprise, persisted,
"Dad, I really have to know. I won't tell anyone else."
The emotion in the boy's voice betrayed the tremendous effort that he was putting into being strong in his quest for an answer.
The father simply said, "I don't talk about that subject."
The boy, head hanging low, walked away from his father. It was useless for him to try to study. His hand was not steady enough to write his school assignment. He opened one of his school books and tried to hide his face in it, but it was useless to try to read.

The father went to his desk, turned on the computer and went to work.
Soon the boy went to his room and ran the the routine of getting ready for the night.
It was impossible for him to sleep. Little did he know what his father was suffering at the same time.
It was impossible for his father to concentrate on his work. He answered the email with short and clipped sentences. The instant the flow stopped, he shut the machine down, got up and decided to go to his son's bedside. When he got there it was easy for him to see the the son was feigning sleep. So he touched him and called his name gently. The boy turned on his back and met his father's now, much gentler, gaze.

"Son," the father began, "why are you so nervous about this?"
"Dad, I really have to know. It's really important to me. Please believe me."
"I realize that it is. I am convinced that I really should tell you. Just man to man, right?"
"Yes, Dad, I promise."
"I get paid $ 20.00 per hour."
"Oh, that's good" replied the son as he turned on his side and reached his young arm around the pillow and dug underneath it. When his hand came out he was clutching an envelope which he opened and pulled out twenty dollars that he had finally accumulated. He stretched out his hand and pleaded,
"Dad, please spend an hour with me."

If you have heard or read this before, let me remind you of the old Latin proverb that says,
"that good story which is repeated, pleases you twice." I don't regret having shared it with you. The point of it is clear. Don't ever put yourself in the position of having to be paid to spend time with your children.
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