A Tale of Four Fathers

Our household likes The Waltons. Yes, it has its sappy moments (but not as many as Little House on The Prairie – Michael Landon had the teary-eyed trembling-lip thing down to a science, not that I doubt he was a compassionate and neat man).

The Waltons is timeless, not only because of its depression-era timeframe, but also because of its people and family-centered storylines. Its continued popularity shows how it hits a nerve with many people. Take the other night, for instance. My mother-in-law Nancy and I were watching an episode together.

Elizabeth, the youngest Walton, was a young teen and experiencing her first crush. It wasn’t to be, for the object of her affection was the new preacher, an adult. When faced with the reality that he regarded her as a pal, she was crushed.

Daddy to the rescue. John Walton gingerly negotiated the stormy path of adolescent emotion and invited Elizabeth to don the new dress Olivia had made her and go out for dinner and dancing with him. She was touched, but declined.

Of course, she later came downstairs wearing the new dress, and John paraded her around the living room dance floor as Ben played a waltz.

At this point, I sighed “Oh, I wish I’d had a daddy like that”.

My mother-in-law sighed, “me too.” She went on to tell me that her father was a good provider, but never expressed his love for the family. She said she always knew he loved her, but she couldn’t recall a single time he told her. One of her brothers stepped in to fill the gap, later, hugging and telling her he loves her. Her other brother is more like their dad, reluctant to talk about it. Isn’t it weird how people turn out so differently even though raised in the same house?

Anyway, I replied that I can remember my own father telling me he loved me, but he was not a good provider by any stretch. Plus, the abuse he piled on my mom and me made the words he said meaningless.

A curious contrast between dads there, I thought. And here we both sat, watching John Walton and wishing we could be his daughter. I guess that, nomatter how old you get, you’re still a kid inside.

It got me thinking about fathers. There are the phantom fathers, those we fantasize about. There are the earthly ones, which run the whole gamut. And there’s the Heavenly One. I’m so thankful for Him, just wish he were as real to me as John Walton seems. It’s like any relationship, though — How much time do I spend with Him, getting to know Him? It goes both ways, I realize.

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