Father’s Day Reflections

HawkgrrrlMormon 9 Comments

Stop to capture your answers as you read through the scenario.  Imagine . . .  You have set off to climb a mountain, in search of a fabulously rare stone.  (1)What is your impression of the mountain as you stand at its foot? . . .  After a hard search, you still haven’t found the stone, and now the sun has fallen.  (2) What will you do next? . . . You have finally discovered the stone you were seeking.  (3) What kind of stone is it?  Describe its size, weight, and value. . . Now it is time to come down from the mountain and return home.  (4) What parting words do you have for the mountain, and what is its reply?

Kokology is a Japanese parlour game of self-discovery in which you are presented with various scenarios that reveal your deeper-held feelings about whatever the scenario truly represents.  Some of these are more light-hearted than others.  The above scenario is about our relationship to our fathers.  Here’s the key to the four questions you were asked in the scenario:

  1. Your impression of the mountain shows the image you have of your father.  Was it difficult and unforgiving?  Or did you have an idealized image of a magificent peak that was somehow welcoming and encouraging?
  2. The stone you are searching for represents an undiscovered talent or strength you possess.  Your response to the question shows your likelihood of realizing that untapped potential.  Did you demonstrate persistence and determination?  Did you pace yourself and show patience?  Did you figure it wasn’t worth it and walk away?
  3. The way you describe the stone is about your self-appraisal and feelings of self-worth.  Did you find a diamond (let’s not get carried away)?  Or perhaps something only worth $20 or so (perhaps a little too much humility)?
  4. Your parting words to the mountain are the words you have always wanted to say to your father but haven’t been able to say.  The mountain’s reply shows your idea of his feelings for you.  What was your exchange like?

In honor of father’s day, I thought I’d share a poem I wrote about my dad when I was in college:

Fear and Love

 A handgun by my father’s bed

made me dread sleep.  I’d dream he’d gone mad.

Killer-dad stalked me.  As I slumbered,

He lumbered, and then, a parting shot—

A red dot, plaguing my forehead

I was dead.  But no—awake in terror

The mirror, reflecting sudden light—I scream

From my dream.  But their door was locked

Though I knocked.


Rods and tackle box in hand,

Untamed land disappeared behind us and a cliff.

I wonder if Dad remembers fishing at sunset.

I can’t forget. I scared the fish away

Every day.


The dinner table’s the place

Dad’s stuffed face forbids me to tell him

That he’s in the wrong.  I protest, mom agrees.

We stab peas with clean forks—no appetites.

After fights the three of us do the dishes.

Mom wishes we wouldn’t fight at dinner.

Now she’s thinner.


Once, Mom had a heart attack

In her back.  She gasped with every breath,

But no death ensued—only dad’s flippancy.

I and she laughed about it, then,

Laughed again and let it go.


We used to fish—Dad and I

But he’ll die, and I’ll forget how to reel

And how to feel both fear and love for him—

One will win.

Here are a few favorite quotes about Father’s Day:

Henry James once defined life as that predicament which precedes death, and certainly nobody owes you a debt of honor or gratitude for getting him into that predicament.  But a child does owe his father a debt, if Dad, having gotten him into this peck of trouble, takes off his coat and buckles down to the job of showing his son how best to crash through it.  ~Clarence Budington Kelland

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.  ~Mark Twain  I keep waiting for my son to figure this one out.  

Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. ~Red Buttons  Wise words.

A man knows when he is growing old because he begins to look like his father.
~Gabriel Garcia Marquez  Yes, unfortunately, daughters may also find that they look more and more like their dads.  And sound like them.

Sons have always a rebellious wish to be disillusioned by that which charmed their fathers.  ~Aldous Huxley  This one holds true for daughters, too.  I remember my dad sitting me down at age 11 and saying it was high time I learned how to calculate a square root long hand.  I told my dad that with calculators nobody did that stuff long hand anymore.  But he still insisted.  Perhaps that’s a skill that’s necessary when all the computers go down and zombies take over the planet and you really need to calculate a square root in a tight spot.

He who is taught to live upon little owes more to his father’s wisdom than he who has a great deal left him does to his father’s care.  ~William Penn  My parents gave me a great legacy of skinflintery.

This father’s day, what are your reflections on fatherhood?  What did you learn about your feelings from the kokology game?  Do you have any favorite quotes about fathers to share?  Discuss.

Comments 9

  1. Truman Madsen, my first mission president, told us that the relationships we had with our fathers would affect how easily we could develop a testimony of a relationship with God. We’d just been off the train for couple of hours when he told us and I’ve never forgotten it. My father was dead by then so nothing much to be done about it. One of life’s little millstones.

  2. I have often looked back on the mistakes I made as a father. I was once apologizing to one of my daughters for my inadequacies. She broke in and told me “Dad, you were fine. There was never a time I did not feel loved.” Those words have been a blessing for me.
    And fortunately, one never ceases to be a parent and can keep improving.


  3. Since i told the mountain that it had served me well and thanked it for the journey,I’m assuming something must be wrong here…

  4. I had nothing to say to the mountain and it had nothing to say to me. That really made me think. I called my dad and we talked–for the first time in about a year. We don’t have any difficulties, we just don’t make the effort to contact each other. I’m going to try to do better.

    Hawkgrrrl, your poem was very touching.

  5. He left my mother to raise us on her own,I ran around after him for a few years and now I’m over wasted energy.It was not a healthy relationship to bring my own children into.But I guess I can nevertheless be grateful for the journey.Sounds about as balanced as I can currently conceptualise.

    But perhaps,for the likes of me,the mountain is my mother.

    Thanks for both your post and your interest,HG.It may be interesting to note,that my patriarchal blessing referred to my ‘goodly parent’. That’s when I knew that I could be done with this.He no longer had any claim upon me.

  6. Wayfarer – sometimes even an absent parent can be said to have done the best (s)he could, and we can have the gift of hard experience too. I hope your father’s day was good anyway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *