A 70-something reflects on becoming the father of his sixth child at age 59.
Meyer fathered three sons during the Vietnam War era while married to his first wife. A journalism professor at California State University-Long Beach, he entered a second marriage to a student 27 years his junior, fathering two daughters and a son. After much agonizing about balancing career and family, Meyer took early retirement from his teaching to become a parent and a home-based freelance writer. Before his retirement, the first batch of his diary-like entries became a book, 1989's My Summer With Molly: The Journal of a Second Generation Father. After retirement, he became a regular journal-writer, musing about parenting and dozens of related threads. Just as Molly dominated the first collection of entries, son Franz dominates the second collection. At turns doctrinaire, old fuddy-duddy, self-deprecating, melancholy, humorous, even hip, Meyer is a thoughtful guide through daily life. The seemingly oblique title becomes clear in the context of the W.B. Yeats' quotation from which it is derived: "An aged man is but a paltry thing / A tattered coat upon a stick unless / Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing / For every tatter in its mortal dress..." Meyer sounds ageist at times, but throughout, he is determined to fight his own aging and to serve as a good husband and father. Eschewing sentimentality much of the time, Meyer can't help occasionally lapsing into teary-eyed territory. He concludes that "geezer fatherdom" is worth the costs, that "in the end, there is only love, active and remembered, to warm the chill of a cooling universe."
Despite Meyer's unusual perspective, this journal contains memorable passages of joy and sorrow for parents and children of all ages.