This photo is probably the last of Dad and me. It’s taken about 3 years before he died, 40 years ago today.
My parents were immensely proud of my education and he, being a Scot who had left school at 12, more so. Scots, I understand have a great pride in education and he had come to New Zealand with his parents and siblings so that they (and by implication me and my cousins) would have a better life than that of miner in Scotland.
About 2 months ago I began marking the events that led up to his death and my attendance at that event. It wasn’t a happy time as I recalled the self importance of a 24 year old and all the old trials and tribulations with my mother. It’s hard at times to forgive the younger self all that self focus. I do know that for all of us it was a time of trauma, sorrow and despair. For him, sometimes I think it was also a time of relief as he had had 22 operations and been unwell since I was 12.
I came home, somewhat quickly, from England where I had gone to seek my fortune and had, in retrospect had a somewhat difficult time of growing up. Picture a New Zealander, naive and innocent in a large city like London.
It’s difficult too to remember who this man, my father, was. I remember isolated incidents, isolated times many good, some sad and things we did: trips away, holidays, learning to swim, learning to make things in his workshop, lessons about responsibility, learning to drive, a twinkle in is eye as he teased me (and my friends), his patience, his tolerance, his dislike of organised religion, which he viewed as a kind of hypocrisy, his craftsmanship as he made superbly beautiful model ships from scratch, his good will towards his work colleagues, his organisational skills (packing the trailer for holidays was always a mission), his love of dancing and his skill and elegance, his warmth and above all, his love for me.
I also remember parties, singing Noel Coward songs, going to the library (his special time with me) and picnics. But I also remember, as he got older and more unwell, a man who was frustrated, introverted and at times angry with life.
Sometimes, really all we are left with when someone dies so young (62, I am older than that now) are remembered feelings: : love, security and being protected..
I would wish these feelings on everyone. And as I grew older I realised that being able to feel these things was precious. And that I was lucky.