Fathers and brothers
Some two years or more back I determined to write some essays or sketches about men who had exercised a fatherly and benevolent influence on me. There were several such. For a title on the collection I chose “My fathers”.
A couple of weeks ago I decided that now would be a good time to work on “My fathers”. As I began mentally to rev up for the work, I realized that I had also had many benefactors in men whose influence was more that of an elder brother than a father. And there were those who did not exercise influence but who just enriched my life with their friendship. Well, these could be collected and called “My brothers”.
But there were also those who would need yet another classification: “teachers”? Should my relatives be thrown in with the rest, or should they have their own heading? What about the handful whose influence was harmful?
No two men are alike. No two relationships are alike. If a classification were extended enough to take account of the unique characteristics of each man and relationship, there would have to be as many classes as men, making the classification meaningless. On the other hand, settling on a few classes and forcing all men into one class or another would do violence to each man. A man is unique. Every man is unique. I am unique. I have always resented anyone’s attempt to classify me.
So let me back down from an attempt to classify. Let me name this collection “Fathers and brothers”. But let there be no classification implied. “Fathers and brothers” includes fathers and brothers, and others. The men included in this collection are men about whom I have something to say which is not said elsewhere on this site.
Fred St Clair
© 2008 Joseph Mansfield
2008.06.17 first draft