“That which has been is what will be, and that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
In the fall of 1970, my father sat alone, listening to the radio, studying in his home office. He was in graduate school and he was listening to the song “He Ain’t Heavy” and thinking about his brother and when he’d be coming home from
For the uninformed, “He Ain’t Heavy” talks about one man carrying
another man out of danger, saying, “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother.” Viet
Over thirty years later, I sat in an eerily similar situation. I, like my father, was in graduate school, and I was studying and I was listening to another “war song,” only of my generation. The song “Letters from Home” sparked my imagination—what my brother was doing, how his day was going, and when he’d be coming home.
These blog posts began as an effort to describe for my brother, Joe, what his nephew was doing. Joe left for a seven-month cruise (courtesy of the United States Navy) a month before my son Jonah was born. Joe left without knowing how the birth went, how we were parenting and what Jonah himself looked like. Much of this text was written in email form, allowing Joe to live and experience a little what we were living and experiencing. My emails were an attempt to provide “Letters from Home,” but I hoped that they would, in a sense, carry Joe out of the danger he was in.
Those two men—my father in 1970 and me in 2004—combined to write this blog. By “combined,” I don’t mean co-authored. We didn’t collaborate, mainly because my father of 1970 is long gone—he wasn’t even a father then—and the me of 2004 is certainly changed. No, I didn’t write this with his collaboration, but I certainly wrote it with my Dad’s help. My Dad told me stories about his life and about his father and I want to continue that practice with my son. I want him to be able to read and to understand what happened before he could read and understand. I also wanted him to know that his Dad isn’t perfect, and that I wasn’t born a Dad, because that’s the same message I got from my Dad.
I look around, and those stories, passed down from father to father, are rare. People have hazy, often negative, memories of their parents and I don’t want that for my son. I want him to know that I’m human and that I had a Dad that I could depend on. Just like he has a Dad he can depend on. If he becomes a father one day, I want him to be able to remember the things he’s heard. Just like I remembered the things I heard.