Monday, October 15, 2012

Fathers-How They Shape Our Characters

I began to think about fathers from the children's sermon yesterday, and how important they are in the development of a child. As adults, our entire personality might be more shaped by our fathers than our mothers. Yes, I wanted the approval of both my parents, but if I rebelled against one of them during my growing up years, it most likely would have been my mother. Not that I was a rebellious child--no, I was somewhat of a pleaser and did not like to argue. But Daddy was away working while Mother was right there all the time. She made the rules, for the most part, except when Daddy made a decision about something and he meant it.

He was a Fifties Daddy, one that worked hard, knew his place, obeyed the laws of the land and the Bible, and was faithful to his wife and three daughters. He was proud of all of us.

Daddy always told me I was pretty, and therefore I thought I was.
He provided enough money for a good house he built and for all the little things we needed..or wanted, within reason, and therefore I thought we were rich. At around age fifteen I realized neither were exactly true, except in the eye of the beholder. By that time, though, I had learned "to act pretty" and "act like we had everything."
I hope I am truly the person I see in my mind's eye, one who loves easily and one who cares about others. The man I married is a good man. I wouldn't have chosen any other kind. And I look up to him just as I looked up to my father.

In thinking all my novels, novellas, and short stories, I believe I have the mention or presence of a father in every one of them. This is not the norm, I don't think, because the majority of the books I read have no mention of a father.
If one of my characters has a severe problem with the opposite sex, then I blame it on the father. If one of my characters has loved and adored his/her father, then I portray that father in such a manner.

The last of my Texas Books, TEXAS TRUE-BOOK II: The Cameron Sisters, features a hero who does not know how to love. Sam Deleon marries the good and sweet True Cameron, and because she adores her father, she expects that kind of love and admiration from her new husband. Since Sam seems incapable of loving anyone, she immediately knows she's clearly misunderstood his motive.

Sam is not cruel--he's just cold or demanding. Why? His father treated him that way, and kicked him off the ranch at age sixteen and out of inheriting a fortune.
Sam suffers, because deep down, he doesn't want to hurt True. But he simply does not know how to treat her like a wife, and certainly knows nothing about how to love her.
This scene is in the oil camp where Sam is the overall foreman. True takes his orphaned niece and nephew there to live in the camp with the other women:
Sam removed his hat and swiped his hand down his face.
"Go back to Mother's and explain to her that I said to allow you to live there with the children until I am finished with this job. Then, we'll go from there."
"Don't you mean, Sam, that she is to allow me to live there until I am with child? And not a minute longer?"
"Where did you get a notion like that? I'll send a man over in the morning to help you pack." He turned to go when he heard her last declaration.
"You can go to hell. And if you send a man over here, I'll tell him the same thing."
Sam did not send a man the next morning to help her pack, nor did he ever. Once a week, he rode over to have supper with the group to keep up appearances, and once a week, they had physical relations. Each and every time, he dressed, said goodnight, and rode away.
True's heart was broken, but she no other recourse. She must carry this through.
In this scene, Sam had another conflict with True, in which she got the upper hand. He lost his temper, and she told him to leave.
He wasn't certain of anything anymore. As long as he was on his own, roaming about, working here and there, and finally becoming involved in the exciting oil business, he had felt safer and more satisfied with himself. But the inner turmoil of what he had endured his whole life never quite went away.
His True. Their marriage would never work. She might love him and be helpful now, but eventually, he would disappoint her again. Just as he had disappointed his mother and his father. For a long time, he was strong, useful, and successful. Now, he felt used, washed up.
This scene is a confrontation between Sam and his younger brother, Emilio:

Sam just glared at the only brother he had and thought he was as much of a stranger as any man he'd ever seen. He did not answer.
Emilio laughed under his breath. "I see that you don't know. Well, I'll tell you. I was the lookout for Father. I kept an eye on you. I could always go to him and tell him how you were slacking off, whether you were or not, and where you were, if you were hiding. He always rewarded me in some way. Usually, it was just a pat on the head, but sometimes, he gave me money. He always called me "his good boy."
"That's despicable. We played together. We rode together. I thought you and I were real brothers."
"I couldn't stand your guts. You were always so upright and dared to stand up to Father. Even when you knew he'd punish you, you tried to say what you thought was right. Idiot. That only made him madder and gave him more reason to stay on you. You were the oldest, and he really, really wanted you to be like him so you could take over. But he knew, as well as I did, that you were too righteous, too soft to ever take his place."
 "So, you became the favored one."
 "Sure. Why not? It was a hell of a lot better than being in your shoes. All I had to do was to stand back and watch you destroy yourself. You know what your trouble was?"
"No, I guess not, he said between clenched teeth. "Are you going to tell me?"
"Yeah. Your trouble was that you expected love. Love! Father didn't love anybody, not even me. He didn't love Mother, either. He didn't know the meaning of the word."
"But Mother knew. She loved us." Sam sounded pathetic even to himself. He wished he hadn't said that.
"Yeah, right. Even now, she's out to help herself. She's only trying to regain what she lost. She wants to come back here and live like she used to, and you're her ticket. You and that woman and that baby. But. Doesn't that baby have to be a boy? Yes, indeed, it does. A boy baby is the only thing that can get Mother back to her beloved home, and she expects you to do it all."
Sam stared at his brother. He understood his mother wanted help, but was it all for herself? Now, that's how it looked.
TEXAS TRUE- Instead of running from a marriage built on deception, True Cameron takes charge of her own life. She works to make her husband see her as a partner and that he is worthy of true love.


Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


  1. Celia, this is really interesting about fathers. I adored my father, too. Like you, I had two sisters. I grew up in the 60's--born in 1957and I had a very rebellious streak. ( didn't know that?)LOL Anyhow, I was just thinking about my own writing when you mentioned how fathers figured into your work. I have rarely had a father that played prominently into the story, other than to be "out of the picture"-- all except SWEET DANGER, and Lindy's father played a pretty important role in that story because of who he was in society. But one thing I do have is a lot of heroes who are fathers or father figures in some way, usually to a young boy. And I think because of this thread, the hero usually thinks of himself as not being "father" material, but finds out he really is, and does a good job at it. It's a way of giving him some self-discovery of his own--something that's hard for a man who is so self-assured and secure (or seems to be) in the way he looks at his place in the world. Great post, and I loved your excerpts!

  2. Cheryl--
    Interesting that we use fathers--but iin different ways. Your use of your hero as a father figure is uniquie to you. I've never written than kind of scenario, but I like it very much. Odd, it's just never happened in my stories.
    My fathers are always in the background--if they make an appearance it is brief to make some point. Mainly, they are mentioned and described because of their great influence on the hero--usually. Except in the case of Marilee in Texas Blue. There her father abandoned her, and that's how Buck found her.
    So, any of these cases, the father--or father figure--has a great responsibility in a child's life.
    I'm glad you liked the excerpts, and thanks for commenting. I always want to know how you see a topic.

  3. Hi Celia,

    I didn't realize at first that this was a blog post because we'd been talking about this very topic on our private loop.

    Your charcter True has a whole lot of backbone. I like that she's unwilling to settle for less than a partnership with her husband. I like that her love and steadfastness will help redeem your hero.

    My father was something like your dad. He was busy with his work and a little overwhelmed with all the girl children in the house. He took time with us, showed us that he cared, but I really wanted to make him proud. My biggest regret is that he passed away not a few months after I was married. I was just beginning to know him as an adult. I saved his letters to me at college until I realized they'd been ruined by the basement flooding. That broke my heart all over again. But I still admire him. He worked a blue collar job and put four kids through college. The fifth started but quit to get married. Not bad for a shrimper.

  4. An interesting post, Celia. Unlike you, I did not have a good relationship with my father, and my daughters' father abandonned them when they were both young and did not see them for over 20 years. Now you've made me wonder whether I am reflecting my experiences of 'father' in my stories!

  5. Maggie--the discusion on our private loop gave me the idea.
    Heroes--everyone has a theme running through their books, and often it's a common theme. I have Redemption more often than any other theme. I love to redeem a character, especially a hero. One time, I even redeemed a villian, one I truly didn't like and everyone loved to hate her. But I couldn't help it--had to make her see the light.
    I didn't know you dad was a shrimper--maybe I missed that. No wonder you are such a true Georgia coast girl. I admire your father, too, because I know a little about shrimping--family members--and know it's not an easy way to make a living. Plus my daddy only had 3 girl children--your dad had five? Wow.
    Thanks so much for contributing to this topic.

  6. Paula--I remember you've mentioned both these events before, and that makes me admire YOU even more. I cannot imagine. It makes me feel spoiled and pampered.
    It does sound as though some of your stories might reflect your experiences. Many authors write like that--maybe all of us.
    Thanks for visiting.

  7. Very often our opinions of ourselves are based on what others have told us. Hearing positive statements early in childhood is a great foundation!

    Morgan Mandel

  8. Morgan--I glad you mentioned that. I'm a true believer of this very thing. Parents should take lessons from this kind of thing. I've seen too many beaten down teenagers who did not get praise and love.
    Since I was a shy, quiet child, I'd probably be a recluse now if my parents--especially my daddy--hadn't made me feel worthy of everything.

  9. Celia, I went back and checked my list of books and can't find a pattern in any father figures in them. I do see several that reflect my relationship with my mother. I've read in psychology books that a girl's relationship with her husband is usually shaped by the kind of relationship she has/had with her father and your experience seems to reflect that. Great post.

  10. Linda--you're probably right. I had a good relationship with my mother, too. We were close as I grew up, and she was very good to all of us. No hugging, much, though, or any display of emotion. Just,"go take your bath," or "comb your hair," or "you can't wear that," etc.
    But she did everything right for us as a mother. It was when we were grown that she changed..long story, but I would never have believed the things that happened would.
    But Daddy? He was gone all week--and so when he came home he was king of the house. All of use treated him that way, including Mother.
    Funny, how we all are now as adults. I worry how my kids will see me later in life. We really don't know.
    I unconsciously put fathers in all my stories. I had no idea I'd done that.
    Thank you for visiting.