“Then, when he was all shipshape, his father put his big arms around him, and held him close to him for a few moments. Like an actor on a stage. It was not a thing you would see in real life anyway, and there was a faraway look on his father’s face, like it was all years ago and otherwise and maybe they were still in Dalkey and he was a little lad. But he was a soldier now of some nineteen years and for all that he was glad of his father’s arms around him strange as it was, strange and comforting as it was.” (A Long, Long Way by Sabastian Barry)
The image of a man embracing his child, even if that child is 19,
is one that should be captured in marble.
It is more heroic than any giant slayer, or Roman gladiator and would melt any heart.
Women very easily fall in love with men who show the vulnerability of loving without limits – those who don’t place the parameters of machismo, or entitlement around a type of love.
To me, the father in this excerpt epitomizes manhood. He is characterized as six-foot six Goliath, and is a policeman who regularly knocks together people’s heads. But, this man’s son has gone to war and a flesh and blood piece of himself has placed himself in harm’s way, intentionally.
His son has come out as nothing short of heroic himself and has become mighty ,not in stature perhaps, but in courage.
This father, a man who has the law and his size in his favour can do
absolutely nothing to “save” his son,
except fold him warmly in his arms, feel his heart beat close to his own,
and hold him tight.
When fathers embrace their adult sons- that image should be plastered on every street corner and projected from every sky rise,
so that everyone will know that the true heroes in life wear no mask.