On a Day Like This, Her Father Was Near

Version 2
George Melville Baker

Emilie Loring didn’t have the official Father’s Day to celebrate–it hadn’t been declared yet–but she was close to her dad and showed it.

“We children were raised on dramatics and quotations. It was Father’s habit to orate when he was shaving, and we could spout Shakespeare before we could spell. Besides being a publisher, he was a playwright for amateurs.”  With Banners

A century before “Take-Your-Daughter-to-Work Day,” George Melville Baker took Emilie with him to the publishing house of Lee & Shepard in Boston.  Emilie sat on the desk, and the publishers gave her children’s books and asked what she thought of them.

Her older sister got special treatment, too.  While Emilie and her little brother were still in grade school, their dad encouraged Rachel to earn a college degree in elocution, and he mentored her first performances, sharing and yielding the stage, by turns.

Every Christmas, George wrote a play that Emilie and her siblings presented for family and neighbors.  He had an infectious sense of humor that showed in silly lines and farcical situations–but never the sort that stuck pins.  The family acted, sang, traveled, and read together, Emilie’s dad at the helm.

He was a resplendent example of the working out of his own precept, his daughter thought. He was the busiest man she knew yet he always had an abundance of time for pleasure. The Trail of Conflict

Version 2
George Melville Baker

None of us has our dad as long as we want.  Emilie’s dad took sick when she was twenty-three and died the following year.  He never got to walk her down the aisle–her brother did that–or hold his grandchildren.

On a night like this under the stars her father seemed very near. Sandra’s throat tightened. Where was he? They had been gay and understanding comrades for years. If he had shaken his head at her stormy outbursts, he had been tenderly sympathetic with her quick, passionate repentances. Now he was gone… Uncharted Seas

But Emilie’s memories weren’t regretful. Her father was the optimistic sun about which the family rotated, an energetic source of wisdom, affection, and humor.

“Father used to say that there is more power in an idea than in anything else in the world.” There is Always Love

Beginning with Noah Caswell in Gay Courage, she wrote her father into her stories, so we can know him, too.

Her father! The thought of him was like a potent, soothing balm on the turmoil of her spirit. Gay Courage

As for her father—Joan’s throat tightened—there wasn’t anyone in the world with such soft, white hair, such kindly blue eyes, so good-looking, so tall and straight, so sporting—so companionable. As Long as I Live

A Baker's DozenAnd remember, he was a writer, too.  His books remained for Emilie, his voice and spirit for her to keep.

 I’m really getting old.  This wrinkled phiz

Of good old age a striking symbol is.

And yet I’m strong, can frolic, dance, or play

With young folks yet for many a Christmas Day.

So I’ll not grumble; while I can, I’ll strive

To let my boys and girls know I’m alive.

What though my hair is gray, my heart is young,

And green as Christmas boughs around me hung.

“The gods provide the thread once the web is started.”

That favorite axiom of her father’s slipped into Sandra’s thoughts as she dressed for the ball.

Uncharted Seas

Happy Father’s Day, everyone!


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