Delaney: Papa

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(Host) With Fathers’ Day fast approaching commentator and former
Republican State Senator Dennis Delaney looks beyond the commercial
surface – at what it really means to be a father.

(Delaney) I’ve
been wondering why Fathers’ Day doesn’t generate quite the same warmth
that comes with Mothers’ Day. So I did a little research on the subject.
One definition I found explains that Fathers’ Day is when we celebrate
the "contribution" of fathers to children’s lives – sort of like writing
a check, I think, then back to the office.

In tracing the
origin of the day I discovered one theory that suggests that it may have
originated in 1907, when a memorial service was held for a large group
of coal miners who were killed in a West Virginia mining accident. Most
of the miners were fathers and I think that explanation touches on one
important role fathers play in children’s lives. We protect our children
and give them a sense of security, even when doing so is very hard.

while reading, I came across the familiar word "papa" which a little
boy, caught in the most dreadful of times, uses repeatedly to seek
assurance, safety and love from his father. There are no names given for
either. They’re just a man and a little child who calls the man "papa,"
as both struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic America.

word by itself can be flat, sterile, unmoving; but folded into this
context – that of a frightened child and his father- it becomes
profoundly human, a thing of grace and beauty, like a butterfly emerging
from a chrysalis. And so it is with the word "papa" in the searing and
overwhelming story "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.

The world
McCarthy creates in his novel is one of "banished sun," gray snow, dead
lakes and relentless cold. Civilization and humanity have been reduced
to what the author describes as "nothingness and night." He doesn’t tell
us why this has happened but we suspect nuclear holocaust. A man,
"papa," and his little boy are struggling to survive in the bleakness.
They are headed south, along a road they hope will lead them to where it
is "warmer."

The bond between father and child confers a small
but transcendental grace on a destroyed world. At one point the child
wakes up and says "Hi Papa." And the man answers "I’m right here." And
the boy replies: "I know."

These few simple words between a father and child strike a small light in the darkness.

another point the man in McCarthy’s story says to the child: "If you
get scared call me and I’ll come right away." And then he says to
himself: "This is my child… my job is to take care of you."

Fathers’ Day I hope that we "dads" will remember that we are all
"papa," someone much loved – but also someone a child depends on to feel
– and to be – safe.

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