The relationship between fathers and sons, change over time. Sometimes they grow closer, sometimes the opposite. This is a story of the second type. They started as most fathers and sons do. At birth the pride of the father is such that he eclipses the sun. He now has a male child who will not only carry his name forward through time, but his destiny as well. So many sons have grown up wanting to emulate their fathers and strive endlessly for their approval.
But how many times have we seen the father and son become adversaries, satisfied with nothing less than the death of the other. How does this disconnect come to pass? It is certainly not some current fad or result of the changing times, for it has plagued mankind since the beginning of time. The tales go so far back they have become legends. They pervade every culture since the time of cavemen. Maybe even them.
Some say it the disappointment when a son chooses a path of his own, rather than following his father’s path that is the cause of dissension. Others say it is when the father becomes human in his son’s eyes and is not infallible, that disappointment seeds the relationship. Some would argue that it is the impatience of youth to gain the wealth and position of their fathers, who take it by force instead that poisons the well. There are some who would claim it is the alienation of attention and approval that drives some sons to rise up against their fathers. Still more say it is a father protecting his son, who stifles rather than nurtures his growth. There are many cases to support each of these, but this excerpt is about the last.
He was not a king, a sorcerer, or a god, but his actions shaped the world around him. The mountains behind him had the worn and weathered look of the ages wearing away their pointed peaks. Although you could not see it from a distance, the waters that flowed down the gentle slopes gave life to a multitude of animal and plant life. The mountains of his son were sharp and forbidding like his son’s tongue. Both were ready to slice away at your flesh for the least misstep.
His son had almost been kidnapped by the father’s enemies. So to make sure it never happened again, he built his son a castle out in the lake connected to land only by a bridge to his castle. The concept was that his enemies could not reach his son without fighting their way through him and crossing the bridge to his son. To further protect his son, he had the bridge made in such a way, that with a single movement of a lever, his son could destroy the bridge with his enemies on it.
For many years as the boy grew, he would go to his father’s castle and other times his father would visit him in his castle. But as the boy grew he wanted to explore the world on the other side of his father’s castle. His father fearing for his safety, said he would bring back from the area beyond the castle anything he wished. So the son wished for a friend to keep him company. His father searched his lands for the most caring and honest person he could find and brought him back to be his son’s friend. They grew up together and had grand times. The friend would tell of love and the beautiful girls of the village. So now that the son had grown to be a young man, he told his father that he wanted a wife to keep him company and bear him children. His father had all the women of the land come to his castle so his son could choose a wife. His son chose a beautiful and intelligent woman to be his wife and live with him.
The wife loved the richness of living as a princess, but grew tired of the son’s friend always being around, so she convinced the son to send him away. She told him that once he was gone they would have enough time alone to make a family. The son liked practicing to make a family, so he sent his friend away. Sure enough, as his wife promised a child soon graced their family. The father got so much joy from his son’s son, that he thought life could get no better.
The third wish of his son, was that he and his family could go forth into the world to find their own destiny. The father wailed at the thought of his son facing the dangers of the world and taking the joy of his grandson away from him, so he denied his son’s request. The son stopped coming to the father’s castle and stopped letting his father visit his grandson in his castle, in the hope it would convince his father to change his mind.
Almost every night the father and son would meet halfway across the bridge and argue so loudly that none could sleep. This went on for a fortnight. The following night the father crossed the bridge half way and waited for his son, who never showed up. The son saw his father alone on the bridge and considered destroying it, so he could be rid of him. But he loved his father, and if the bridge was gone, he still could not go free into the world.
The next night when his father crossed the bridge halfway, he was surprised to see his son’s wife and his grandson waiting for him there. They told him that they had an important message from the son, but they could only tell him in his castle. So the three of them turned and made their way to the father’s castle on the bank of the lake. Just as they entered the castle, a roar came from behind them. The son had pulled the lever and destroyed the bridge.
The father was beside himself because he knew that without a way to get food to his son, he would starve. He demanded to know what message the son had sent. The wife said that his son’s wish was that he let her and his grandson go free beyond the castle. The father angry at his son’s folly, and still not wanting to loose his grandson refused. Days went by and the father tried sending boats and birds with food for his son, but all were refused and pushed away. Before long the son was gaunt and had used up the last of his water. The father was sure he would give up this foolishness now, but the son did not. In his last act of life, he threw himself from the tallest window of his castle, so his father could see his gaunt body die.
The father was racked with grief and self loathing. He thought surely his son would give in before letting himself starve to death. The wife came to the father with his grandson and said, now I will tell you the second message from your son. The father confused, looked up and bade her to continue.
She simply said, “Do not do to my son, what you have done to me.” The wife and his grandson turned and walked out the door. He did not stop them.