Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lyrics at the break of dawn

Cat's in the cradle...
original song by Harry Chapin

Starts out with baby being born to a busy dad.

As the baby grows up, the dad can't play with him because there is so much work to do.

Next stage of life, teenager goes off to college.
He returns for a visit and only wants the car keys so he can go out.

Next we see father retiring, calling up son, wanting to have a visit together...
"I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"
In the song, the next stanza completes the cycle, saying that now the son was exactly like the dad who had no time for him in younger life.

A haunting theme, in all of our hearts.

I would add another few stanzas in my life: (sung from my parent's perspective)

Our daughter got so sick, and so it goes,
she lives so far, we can hardly know.
We can't take care of her, we miss the kids,
They grow so fast, the distance forbids.

We are getting to some problems of our own, she should know.
She calls us now, but the wind's have blown.
My wife wants to talk, but she's changed so much,
It's all on me, and my life's too tough.

("cats in the cradle and the silver spoon"...)

...There's such pressures we have at this late stage of life,
 I won't burden you, you've got your own kind of strife.
Now I gotta hang up please, Sa-rah.
I just gotta hang up now, doll.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Dad calls me Sarah,
Mom calls me doll.
I live so far, their challenges are great.
They don't want me to come there, my health problems are too great, my family my priority.

The full circle of the child coming around again to missing the parent...?
That didn't happen in Harry Chapin's lyrical world.

I just love hearing my mother answer when I call:
 "yes, my doll".
It's one of the only things she says that her voice remembers her old lilt.


  1. Sarah, Cat's in the Cradle was a real anthem for me. I played it a million times along with "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens (I'm the "son" and my Mom's the "father" in that one.) Very moving entry. Blessings for health and freedom for suffering on both continents and in both generations.

    1. Yes, Judy- Cat Stevens (the old one, when he still was "Cat Stevens") Father and Son was also one of my "Truth Anthems". The last part I always identified with myself. Which teen/college kid didn't, tho, right? Here it is, the last stanza, from the kid's voice to the dad:

      "All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
      It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
      If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them they know not me.
      Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
      I know I have to go."

      So, I went.
      I came here.
      I am home.
      But I miss them.
      I MISS THEM so much.

  2. I always thought that as I "grew up" I would deal with the distance better but unfortunately that isn't the case....I have 3 kids with almost no family contact and of course parents who are not getting younger...but I don't regret my choice to live here so I guess I have to live with the consequences! As all of us do. It's a hard choice.

  3. I always have to turn that song off when it comes on the radio -- it makes me cry. And I don't feel like I'm living my life that way with my kids (neither is George), but I feel the pain of missed connections felt in the song and my heart breaks for the child that doesn't get the love and attention they deserve. You are in a hard place -- so far from your parents, needing to give your children your time and attention, needing to take care of yourself so you will continue to be there for them.
    Hugs, Sarah, as you struggle to find the balance you need for everyone who needs and deserves your love.

  4. Replies
    1. Shira- me too! I have been crying so much. I feel like I am mourning some stage of childhood gone or something. Thanks for crying with me. Love you!