Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"the former things are passed away..."

(Framed by Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I received an anonymous comment to the post "My father's story...," but doubtless also in reaction the other post on my father, "Self-Reliance." Clearly, this anonymous individual knew my father, for the comment contains my father's name, "Bradley," which I did not use in my posts. Here's the comment, followed by my direct response:

Anonymous said...

You don't even know Bradley. Go to Hell!!!

Anonymous, you say that I don't even know my father and then tell me to go to hell? I trust you're not implying that I'll get to know my father better there! I'm hoping, instead, that we'll all meet in a better world, one in which:
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4, KJV)
That would be a far better place to meet my father, a place where all will be made clear:
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV)
In this world, however, we see but darkly. You've chosen to stay in the shadows and comment anonymously, and perhaps that's for the best, for I would be very disappointed if you should happen to be someone whom I know.

But to address your point ... you say that I don't know Bradley?

True enough. I didn't know my father well. I've said as much in my posts. I could hardly get to know him since he appeared only rarely in my life. But I do know some things that you don't know, and I know them from firsthand, very personal experience. I haven't posted those things on this blog, and I won't.

Instead, I've attempted to provide a balanced picture of my father despite not knowing him well. Here's an example from a comment that I left in response to a reader's remarks:
A tough father is no problem if he's also a good father. I can't say that my father was a good one. For one thing, he didn't fulfill his role as father to me or my brothers since he had little to do with our lives beyond our earliest years. Also, even in those early years, partly due to his youth and immaturity, he didn't know how to be a father and acted to assert his authority in arbitrary, harsh ways that I don't want to recount in this blog.

But let me leave his memory on a positive note. At his funeral, hundreds of people from the Missouri town where he lived came to express their grief. Apparently, many people liked him a lot because he was so friendly and helpful. So, he must have matured some as he grew older and developed his better qualities.
I think that most people reading this remark as well as my two blog posts would agree that I've been pretty fair to my father.

To whom I now say: "Bradley, requiescat in pace."



At 4:50 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

Good for you. Stand up to the jerk. You know, I always think that people who want to say nice things about dead people (who weren't nice in life) are rather a silly, superstitious lot. It's best to tell it like it is. Otherwise, how can we ever learn from our own (or others) mistakes?

At 5:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Saur. I wonder if the person who posted the 'go to hell' comment had been drinking, for the comment actually was:

"uYou don't even know Bradley. Go to hell!!!"

That small "u" should have been edited out, and its odd presence suggests that the person wasn't in an ordinary frame of mind. Conversely, the person may simply have been very emotional. Or just careless.

Jeffery Hodges

At 7:29 AM, Blogger A.H. said...

Drunk, sober, in a way it does not matter: offensive all the same. Someone that knew your father...but also you well enough to be aware of your blog. This is the nasty side of patriarchy which maims fathers/men and hits out at sons that dare to dream more caring images of themselves as fathers and look realistically at the damage that is done in the name of the father. And of course, those who spout this sort of male abuse in this way often have no awareness of the Father. As bullies, they chose to reign in the Hell they make and pour their own inadequacies on those who would serve higher things than power.
I found your posts illuminating and incisive, honest, but never cruel.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Eshuneutics, thanks.

On trying to be a better father, I have had the advantage of age. My father was only 19 when he married and 20 when his first child was born. My first child was born when I was nearly 20 years older than that.

My impression is that my father did feel bad about his mistakes but didn't know how to ask forgiveness. Instead, he tried to redeem himself through being a better person to others as he grew older -- which is to his credit, but not the path to redemption for his failings to his own kids.

No matter how strongly the Anonymous poster feels about my father, one thing can never be altered for my brothers and me: after our father's initial failure, he never made the requisite effort to be our father.

For that, there are no excuses.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Steph, for the moral support.

As for Anonymous, I'm not certain that this person is a man. Might be a woman who cared about my father, still grieves over my father's death, doesn't know me well, and imagines that my brothers and I were "bad sons" because we didn't try to 'maintain contact' with our father.

I don't see any way of knowing for sure who Anonymous is, and I think that I'd rather not know.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...I think you've been more than fair in your comments regarding our father. Whomever 'anonymous' is, it is indeed unfortunate to leave such a message. Jeff, your evaluation is accurate to my knowledge and I suspect you knew our father better than the one who left you the profane message.


(I don't know if you've heard but Ann's lymphoma has returned. She will have a brain biopsy tomorrow. After that we will consider treatment options.)

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Pat, for the kind words. I've tried to be fair to Bradley's memory.

Yes, I had heard from Shan about the recurrence of Ann's lymphoma. I've been thinking about you both and intending to send an email.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 1:57 PM, Blogger jj mollo said...

My wife always tells me that it's OK to argue about what happened, but never to argue about what a person feels about it. If someone is unhappy about the way he was treated, it's wrong to say his unhappiness is invalid no matter how badly events might have been misinterpreted.

You have been open and calm in your depiction of your history with your father. Anonymous was secretive and abrupt. Whatever that person knows cannot salve your wounds if it stays locked away, ... and there is nothing you can do to address that person's resentment.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, JJ. I'm not even sure what triggered the reaction in Anonymous, for upon re-reading what I've written about my father, I sense in my own words a sort of grudging admiration for him. He was tough and hardworking, and he didn't bow readily to the ravages of his illness.

And the wife who stayed by him in his last days told me that she had learned through my father what love really means.

I think it means that each of them finally found the right person in one another. That's a lot of it, as I've also discovered.

Jeffery Hodges

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