A Tale of Two Fathers

The Story of One Man and His Two Daughters Born 42 Years Apart

A Tale of Two Fathers is the story of how, and why, a man slipped the surly bonds of toxic masculinity and transformed from feckless father to devoted dad, as America changed with him.

Impetuous and self-absorbed when my first daughter was born in 1968, little did I realize her innocence and lovability would ultimately pierce my hyper-masculine façade and set me on an often humbling, frequently tortuous path of awakening. Forty-two years later in 2010, having endured my dark night of the soul and abandoned my machismo schtick, when my second daughter was born, I had an opportunity for a fatherhood do-over.

Elle, my firstborn, is fathered by a reckless, unreflective twenty-five-year-old who casually reads Rolling Stone in the waiting room during his baby’s delivery; a hipster wannabe who vanishes at the faintest whiff of poopy diapers; who eventually forsakes his wife and child in a desperate search for himself. Gracelyn, my second daughter, is parented by a spirited, self-aware septuagenarian who catches his newborn at birth, tenderly hands her to his ecstatic wife, then cuts the umbilical cord; a man who teaches his child to sign to express her wants and needs before she can talk; who regards his marriage and parenthood as sacred trusts, the preeminent passions in his life.