We talked a while back about how MacArthur had a kind of scheduled morning craziness with his son Arthur, who would enter his room promptly at 7am and pummel his father awake. Then together they’d sing songs—old army songs Douglas had taught him—with Arthur still slurring his R’s—while dad shaved and got ready for work.
As William Manchester observes in his amazing biography of the complicated man, MacArthur believed that his son was the only one who appreciated his singing. “He was wrong,” Manchester wrote. “Everyone around him appreciated it because they saw the changes the boy had wrought in him.” MacArthur, whose only child was born when he was 58, and was already one of the most powerful men in the army, had always been active and firm. But with a young boy running around, he became alive in a way that he had never been before. He laughed. He loved. He let his guard down.
Manchester beautifully captures what fatherhood has done for countless fathers for all time:
A snapshot of the three MacArthurs, taken on the boy’s third birthday, shows Arthur in a sailor suit, his mother in a flower-trimmed frock, and his father in khaki. The General’s expression can only be described as adoring. Acclaim, achievements, decorations, and high rank had come to him early. Now, in his sixties, he had found serenity.
You have been given a wonderful gift—actually that’s not quite right, you have helped create a wonderful gift. Now you have to give yourself over to it. You have to truly accept it and let it into your heart. Not just once, for the first time, when they are young and so irresistibly cute, but over and over again as you both get older.
Let it keep making you better. Let it give you serenity. Have fun. Get crazy. Be adoring. Relax your guard. Keep changing. You deserve it and so does everyone around you.