John Paul Fiske, Jr. was born on June 12, 2017 at 3:16 am, weighing 8 lbs 4 oz. The nurse proclaimed, "time of birth, 3:16," and time froze as we began our new life and journey together. John rested in my wife's arms, and the words rang true "For God so loved the world...."
When we arrived home from the hospital, an incredible urge to write came over me. "Fatherhood and the Farm" will chronicle our familial journey raising a young boy, into a man, on our farm animal rescue in Elfin Forest, California.
One of the early memories of my own father is when he signed us up for "Indian Guides," a father-son program offered by our local YMCA. "Indian Guides," he told me, "was founded by two men, one white and one Native American, an Obijwe tracker named Joe Friday, who explained that 'white men do not spend enough time with their sons.'" Joe Friday uttered these words in the 1920s, and the same is true today. I suspect many of the world's ailments could be resolved through stronger fatherhood bonds, including through the love for the respective mothers.
I watched my wife walk in to the hospital around 10 pm the night before John was born. She walked in dilated to 7 cm, with contractions 5 minutes apart. Earlier that day, we went to church, ate brunch, and walked along the beach. The days and weeks before that, Courtney farmed as she and the baby were one, as if her body had been designed to be pregnant. Youthful and healthy, Courtney pitched a perfect pregnancy, later deemed "the princess pregnancy" by her OBGYN.
My hope is to write to the universal journey of fatherhood, without any specific doctrine or intention, so that any father in any region could read, relate, and share. There is no design behind the structure, neither artificially positive nor artificially vulnerable. Like so many writers today, I am not an apologist and I do not write with fear of offense. Rather, this is designed to speak universally from the premise that if I find certain thoughts or words helpful, others will too. Most, if not all, of my thoughts will be shoplifted from greater minds, to admit anything less would be disingenuous.
Our farm animal rescue as the backdrop, this 2.5 acre farm will be the canvas for Fatherhood and the Farm. We built the farm from scratch, literally from the ground up, as a project of compassion and community. Now our son is here, and our vision to raise a family among the animals and amid the dirt, is a dream come true. We hope to focus intently on John's life, but also to look beyond, as we are not just raising a son, but a future father.
And so I am reminded of Zac Brown's words from "My Old Man,"
"My old man
Feel the callous on his hands
And dusty overalls
My old man
Now I finally understand
I have a lot to learn
From my old man
Now I'm a giant
Got a son of my own
He's always trying
To go everywhere I go
Do the best I can to raise him up the right way
Hoping that he someday wants to be
Like his old man"
John Paul Fiske, Sr.