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In A Brown Study, 8

June 20, 2016

Yesterday was Father’s Day, a Sunday, and the opportunity for Preachers everywhere to talk about the importance of Fathers. I believe fathers are so important, and I’m happy to report my daughter has one of the best. Her dad and she began a series of “date nights” when she was still in a high-chair. ‘They’ say proof of the pudding is in the results, and she, her husband, and our two grandsons are quite delicious.

We take two pastors on Sunday – Pastor Doug and Pastor Joel (Osteen). Both talked about the importance of fathers to encourage and love their children, to support them and tell them how proud they are of every small accomplishment. Their little victories contain the fertilizer for the bigger ones.

I expected to talk about Hawthorne’s friends today, but I will digress. Nathaniel is a good example of how not to approach fatherhood. He was nearly 40 when his wife, formerly Sophia Peabody, had their first daughter, Una, in 1844. He was certainly a proud and adoring father at first, but Una was a fretful and moody baby. Perhaps he lost interest, and Sophia took control of the infant, trying to keep the baby contented, so she would not interrupt her writer husband’s quiet.

Ninety years later, I, too, had a writer for a father, and after my sister was born, I remember the clacking of a typewriter in a distant room, and mother trying to quiet the infant and her two year old, me. Nearly impossible. But she managed to shuffle us off on Saturday mornings to Dad – the beginning of a bonding – and for me the beginning of my love for books and Saturday afternoon radio opera.

When Sophia Hawthorne delivered their second child, Julien (1846), she proclaimed herself “the happiest of women.” Sophia was a controlling mother, and devoted her life and all her energy to her children. Of a reclusive nature, she was happy to keep the children away from other children, and Hawthorne was happy to let her have the welfare of the children to herself. A third child, Rose, was born in 1851. Hawthorne called her his “autumnal child.” By that time, Hawthorne, had received some acclaim for his Scarlett Letter (1850) and was busy with House of Seven Gables (1951).

Una had psychotic bouts and depression. She became engaged to a young poet who died of tuberculosis before they could be married. Julien had just begun Harvard when his father died in 1864. Rose never married, but entered a convent in 1895, devoting her life to the cure of cancer patients. Hawthorne’s children, not neglected, but not nourished by father.

My father died from tuberculosis when I was 6, my sister only 4.


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