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Fathers

Terry Ratner, RN, MFA | Oct 8, 2013, 2:20 p.m.

Ozzie

Oswald Nelson, at age 13, was the youngest person to become an Eagle Scout. Oswald went on to become Ozzie Nelson, the father in “Ozzie and Harriet.” Though the show aired years before the advent of reality television, Harriet was indeed Ozzie’s real wife; Ricky and David were his real sons, and, eventually, Ricky and David’s wives were played by their actual spouses. I remember watching the show and wondering if any father interacted with their family like Ozzie did. Perhaps being an Eagle Scout helped prepared him for fatherhood.

The current requirements for Eagle Scout make it impossible for anyone to ever beat Ozzie’s record.

My father was never a scout of any kind. He grew up in foster homes. Most of his foster parents took him in because of money they received from the state. Only one foster parent professed to loving him, but by that time he was in his teens and the damage was irreparable. He never knew what it was like to have a father.

Father Knows Best

In 1954 Robert Young starred in the television series “Father Knows Best.” Young played Jim Anderson, an average father in an average family. I always wanted to be “Kitten” the part that Lauren Chapin played. I wanted to be called Kitten and I wanted a father like Jim Anderson. My family had no similarities to the television family of “Father Knows Best.”

I don’t remember bonding with my father, although we did go to the beach a few times. We played together in the waters of Lake Michigan, me sitting on his broad shoulders while he waded in deeper. I also remember going to Riverview Park with him during my younger years. He enjoyed riding the rollercoasters as much as I did and he would scream as we headed downhill. Those screams didn’t scare me. It was the screams that were to come later in life when he would be chasing me as if he was the hunter and I was the hunted.

Carp

After the female Japanese carp gives birth to hundreds of tiny babies, the father carp remains nearby. When he senses approaching danger he will suck the helpless babies into his mouth, and hold them safely there until the coast is clear. My father was not like this.

He was strict—an attorney and a colonel in the Air Force reserves.

He would yell as the chase began. His face would become as red as a beet and I watched his neck pulsating and his Adam’s apple enlarge. I always knew what was to come, but I put up a good fight. There was no such thing as “child abuse” back then.

Hugh Beaumont

The actor who portrayed the benevolent father on the popular TV show “Leave it to Beaver” was a Methodist minister. Tony Dow, who played older brother Wally, reports that Beaumont hated kids. I don’t believe my father hated children, however, I think he disliked women because of his early childhood relationship with his mother.

Side Note

Hugh Brannum, not to be mistaken with Hugh Beaumont, played Mr. Green Jeans on “Captain Kangaroo” and I remember him as kind, funny, and extremely reliable.

Emperor Penguins

Once a male emperor penguin has completed the act of mating, he remains by the female’s side for the next month to determine if he is indeed about to become a father. When he sees a single greenish white egg emerge from his mate’s egg pouch, he begins to sing.

Scientists have characterized his song as “ecstatic.”

Who would you rather have as your father: Hugh Beaumont, Hugh Brannum, or an emperor penguin?

Terry J. Ratner, RN, MFA is a health educator at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. Visit her website at www.terryratner.com. Send comments to info@terryratner.com.

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