Religious Sunday: A Simple Story I Read

Reading a book I came across this story “A Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned, I thought it would be nice to share it on Sunday. It serves as a good reminder.

“Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek, and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. As you started off to play and as I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again late in the afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles.  There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings  were expensive — and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imaging that son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door.  “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – –  this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and kind and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as dawn itself  over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me goodnight. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness. and I have knelt there, ashamed.

It is a feeble atonement: I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy — a little boy!”

I am afraid I  visualized you as a man. Yet, as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.”


  1. Thank you Matt. I happen to have my grandchildren (age 4 and 6) visiting tonight. They are camping out in the wilds of Mashpee-my backyard .Mr. Larned, thanks for the reality check.

  2. Matt

    I created this thread “it is harder to get a drivers license,
    than to have a baby “ in 2017.

    No poesy in it but reflects my interest in reducing crime
    by eliminating Child Abuse


    In other news

    Inside the Maine State Police, officer misdeeds are kept secret
    April 18,2021

    Last One over the Wall: The Massachusetts Experiment in Closing Reform Schools

  3. A poignant reminder for all fathers to appreciate the blessings of children every day.

    • William Matthew Connolly

      W. Livington Larned’s short story ’tis Truly poignant! It is evocative of the handicapped (crippled) Tiny Tim’s “God bless us everyone.” Timothy “Tiny Tim” Cratchit had the spirit.

      Wikipedia nicely summed it:

      “When Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present he is shown just how ill the boy really is (the family cannot afford to properly treat him on the salary Scrooge pays Cratchit). When visited by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Scrooge sees that Tiny Tim has died. This, and several other visions, lead Scrooge to reform his ways. At the end of the story, Dickens makes it explicit that Tiny Tim does not die, and Scrooge becomes a “second father” to him.

      “In the story, Tiny Tim is known for the statement, “God bless us, every one!” which he offers as a blessing at Christmas dinner. Dickens repeats the phrase at the end of the story, symbolic of Scrooge’s change of heart.”

      Someone wrote, reminding us, that Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” was a celebration of Christ.