Paul Henry Carr
A father of 5 daughters has an abundance of beauty and feminine company, but he does have one handicap:
He never was a girl!
That explains perhaps my difficulty in relating to their daily hair wash. My only point of reference was the lipstick and bare legs that were in vogue for teen-age girls when I was a boy growing up in Northern Vermont. I remember walking to school, well bundled up for the 20-below-zero winter, and being horrified by the sight of older, teen-age girls walking to school with short skirts, bare legs, and white rubber boots. At least the current daily shampoo is perhaps more hygienic. In any case, with five daughters showering each morning, my solar hot water heating system has been a sound investment.
The fact that I never was a girl increases the need both I and my daughters have for their mother. After all:
It takes two to make a miracle.
In addition to the obvious fact that the act of creation of new life involves both male and female, the need for two parents in the nurturing and upbringing of five daughters is a greater daily need. I have always played the role of the family provider and organizer. However, our family could not have survived without my wife's gifts of understanding, diplomacy, and peacemaking.
My wife sometimes describes us as "Ernie" and "Bert" on "Sesame Street." I am a."Bert" type: thin, serious, and straight. She is a more rounded, fun-loving, and easy-going "Ernie.". I am economical, she is generous. When our daughters want something, they ask her first. She is a little hard of hearing. My daughters say:
Speaking of teen-music, I am thankful that I have lived long enough to have my oldest daughter give her records to the teen-age boy who lives across the street.
It is hardest with the oldest. One evening, I realized that Kirsten was missing. We called all her friends and people for whom she usually baby-sits, to no avail. -Finally, my-wife called the police. The policeman came to our house and took down all the information about her. He said the 90% of missing teenages show-up in 24 hours. Our waiting continued... I finally went to bed and kept praying in an attempt to get to sleep. Then about 12:30 A.M. she came home. She had been babysitting and had forgotten to tell us!
I discovered this feeling when dutiful, diligent oldest daughter, Kirsten, at age 22 discovered her interest in teaching young children and dedicated her educational endeavors to that end.
I was very gratified when my sturdy, people-loving daughter, Elizabeth (Tina), discovered her interest in economics when she was a freshman at Northeastern University. It was very exciting when she made the Dean's list.
When Emily was still a baby, she acquired the name "Emie Enterprise." She maintains that same enterprising spirit at age 15. She is a good student in school. As a Freshman in High School, she earned her Varsity Letter as a member of the Ski Team, and her Jr.Varsity letter as a member of the tennis team.
I call daughter Liselotte (Lilo), age 13, my Renaissance Person. In addition to being a very talented artist, she is also very good in math and science. I was impressed to find her poem published in our Bedford Paper as one of the winners of the Middle School poetry contest:
Who Am I?
I am a dreamer, searching for answers hidden among abundant stars, camoflaged by night.
I am an observer, always watching and pondering the world and the beings upon it.
I am as fragile as a glass flower, as strong as a winter blizzard.
I am as dramatic as a brilliant flash of lightning on a slate blue sky, as tranquil as the calm after the storm.
I am a peacemaker, always striving to restore harmony around me.
I am carrying the burden of the generation before me.
I am always searching for a new experience that will make me grow.
Sylvia last but not least at age 11, is an all "A" student and has acting ability. She recently got an "A/A" on a science report on solar hot water heaters. The "A/A" is an "A" for the oral presentation and an "A" for the written report. In her school play, she was the queen in "Snow-White and the 5 Dwarfs."
Sylvia was chosen to work with some other "gifted" children to make a program about nuclear war for WBZ TV-4. This included a discussion evening for parents led by psychologist, Dr. Zeitlan. During this discussion, I came to realize that we indeed do carry the burdens of the generation before us" and how important is the relation with our own father.
I can think of ways in which I absorbed some of my father's beliefs and others which I rejected. I absorbed his belief that the atom bomb would make another World War too devastating to undertake. Although we have had a number of small wars and "police actions", there has been no major World War for the forty years after the first atomic bomb. I rejected, on the other hand, his suggestion that I become a "Conscientious Objector" before I was about to register for the draft in the 1950s. His argument was that the First World War was "A War to End All Wars" and the Second World War was to establish the "Four Freedoms." He didn't think that either war succeeded in doing this. I replied that both wars were to stop German expansionism and that I felt they were successful in that regard. I went ahead to register for the draft, because I felt strongly that I was needed to defend our free-society against the power of Communism. This may have been one of the reasons I once heard Dad later remark:
"Every new generation wants to have the feeling that it is surpassing its ancestors!"
It is through his fathering and that of my Grandfathers and Uncles that I learned how to be a father.
Dad died suddenly on December 31, 1984 at age 79. My daughter Emily, age 15, wrote the following poem, which describes how we all felt.
I can't believe it.
It can't be true.
I won't believe it.
But I know he is gone.
I must accept it.
Even though it makes me sad
Every time I think
That wise and gentle man
Is gone forever.
Why did he have to leave?
Yet what he gave while he was alive,
Will never, ever die: