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If You Could Spend a Few Hours With Any Person Living or Dead, Who Would It Be?

Updated on June 15, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

It would be my late father of course

Both my parents died many years ago and obviously I would love to spend time with both of them if possible.

However if I have to choose one person that I would love to spend some time with I will choose my Father.

My Father died six years before my Mother passed away; I was aged just 17.

So in real terms I knew Dad for a short time and now I am aged 66 it seems such a very short time.

My Dad died around four months before I turned 18, at a time when I was still studying at school; life for me changed suddenly.

So meet my Father and find out why we have unfinished business.

It’s a family affair

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dad as a small child  with an image of his father on the right of photoMy Grandfather, as a boy, on the right, with his father on the leftGrandfather on shore leave in Chicago. He is the bowler hatted guy on the right
Dad as a small child  with an image of his father on the right of photo
Dad as a small child with an image of his father on the right of photo
My Grandfather, as a boy, on the right, with his father on the left
My Grandfather, as a boy, on the right, with his father on the left | Source
Grandfather on shore leave in Chicago. He is the bowler hatted guy on the right
Grandfather on shore leave in Chicago. He is the bowler hatted guy on the right | Source

Dad

My father was born in Yorkshire, in England, in April 1914; the year that was the start of the first World War. His Dad, my grandfather, was a naval officer in the Royal Merchant Navy.

This meant Dad started his early life on food rations and with an absent father.

As a small child, his mother sadly died.

Such a loss is hard for any toddler to bear but remember fathers were usually stern in those days and one can only imagine the pain the child felt.

With a father away at sea it was decided that two maiden aunts would look after Dad until a better solution could be found.

A solution did present itself however when Dad was aged four or so.

His father remarried and arrived to take his son to join his new family. The aunts were already so very attached to Dad that in the end he was left to live with them.

This would be his first but not last experience of rejection and loss in life.

A few years before the second world war began my grandfather died at sea or so I thought.

Recently I have learned that grandfather was actually on a vessel which was sunk by a U Boat off the coast of Egypt in 1941.

In !939 the Second World War began and when it was his time Dad wanted to join the Royal Navy. But after persuasion from his aunts he joined the infantry. Like many who served he fought a tough, long war and it took its toll on his health and well-being.

He served seven years in Burma and India.

Although the aunts feared the navy would kill Dad he would probably have fared better in the navy than in the infantry.

He came home after being demobbed in 1947 and he and Mum married the next year. By this time Dad was 34 and Mum 31. Not young by the standards of the day.

Mum's first pregnancy resulted in a stillborn boy. My brother came along in 1950 and I followed in 1952.

Had the first birth been successful I would not be here. Life is a funny game isn't it?

Dad was fine on the surface but in reality he was a shattered man.

In those days post traumatic stress disorder was unrecognized in the U.K. As a very small child I remember Dad having malaria attacks but by the time I started school Dad had suffered his first nervous breakdown.

We had many years when he was fine but then his demons would return. So much so that he attempted suicide when I was aged 14.

Three years later he died of "natural" causes.

Dance with my father again

So why do I want to spend time my father?

Well firstly he was my Dad and I loved him to bits. Sure at times we fought but who doesn't at times.

I remember plenty of fun times and days out also though.

With age I realize just what my parents had to endure.

I know that they did the very best they could for us. Money may been tight, especially when Dad was ill, but we wanted for nothing.

Our educational and spiritual welfare was taken care of. Our house where we lived was always a home to me and a place to want to return to.

But I would love to have a grown up chat with my father, adult to adult.

I would like to hear how the war was for him, as he would never discuss it.

I would love him to rattle a great tune one our old piano, which he could do easily.

I would love to hear him bellow out a song for one more time as his voice was lovely.

I would love to enjoy a cycle ride together one more time. As a child I would struggle to keep up on family bike rides but Dad would place a hand on my shoulder to guide me along. "Lift your feet from the pedals and I'll pedal for you".

I would love to be able to learn some of our family history. With so many people dying young in our family there is no-one to ask.

Who did grandfather marry? Did they have any children? What vessel was grandfather on when he died? How was your childhood being brought up my two maiden aunts? Did you love our mother?

And so many other meaningless questions which matter to me and I would love to hear answered

Above all though I would love to give him the hug of his life, curl up next to him and just enjoy his presence.

Yes still miss you Dad, even after all these years.

Update

Last year I received an unexpected letter from a firm of heir hunters.

Such firms operate in the U.K. working against time to find relatives of unclaimed legacies.

They research family trees in the hope the legacy have a decent payout; they take a small percentage.

They have no idea if any legacy is worth a pittance or a fortune.

But such money has a time limit. If not claimed it goes to the Crown.

So imagine my surprise

I imagined the letter related to a person linked to my father’s extended family but it did not.

It was in fact a relative of dad’s mum who died when he was a small child all a century or so ago.

The bad news is there is little money but the great news is information pertaining to the family, a family tree and more relatives that I dreamed existed.

© 2011 Ethel Smith

Comments

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    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Sweet of you Peggy. Well it is what it is but young readers take note and love them whilst you can. An early Merry Christmas to you :)

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Ethel,

      As others have already said, it is generally when we get a bit older that we become more interested in family history and for some it is then too late. I was fortunate to have had my mother with me until 2010 when she died. I learned much from her but still find myself wishing I could ask her questions which will now have to go unanswered since almost everyone else who might have known is already gone or does not know. I am the last left in our nuclear family of 5.

      My dad was a paratrooper during WW2 in Europe and saw one of his fellow soldiers fall to his death when his parachute did not open. He did not talk much about his war experience.

      Both of my brothers served in Vietnam. You must know how they were welcomed home. Much of our country was in an uproar over that conflict and the soldiers, though it was not their fault, were treated horribly when they returned.

      So sorry that your dad suffered so and that you grew up deprived of his love and guidance and company for so many years. If I were a genie and could grant a wish...your wish would come true.

      Hub hugs to you!

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks on all counts Maggs, It is sad that by the time we appreciate people it is so often too late. (People take note)

    • maggs224 profile image

      maggs224 

      6 years ago from Sunny Spain

      As usual Ethel this is a great hub it held me from start to finish. Both my parents are dead and like you I have so many questions I would like to ask them now if I had the chance.

      With each passing year I have more appreciation and admiration for them and for the way they dealt with the hard times. It is a regret that I was not as close as I could have been when I was younger but I was blessed by having a much closer relationship with them later in life.

      I have voted this up and hit beautiful and interesting

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thank you pranav. Yes if you still have your parents as you are growing older cherish them. You will understand them more now

    • pranav k profile image

      pranav k 

      7 years ago

      great writing ethel.Most of us relate ourselves only to the pain we have been through personally.May be it is the thing that plays role in our increasing love for our parents through the years.As we grow, we pass through the stages our parents had been and realize what it must have been for them.thank you for the beautiful article.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      alisha enjoy them, your parents, when you can

    • alisha4u profile image

      alisha4u 

      7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I am living far from my mom dad. I miss my family every moment.But your content made me understand the deepest our relationship. Now I desire to pass more time with them.

      Thank you so much for this Great hub.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for your sweet comments. I guess we will always miss our parents once they have died.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello ethel, What a lovely tribute to your father, although I'm sorry to find out your Dad passed when you were so very young. Too many things he missed experiencing with you as well. My deepest condolences on your loss. Even though I had my Dad until 6 years ago, it wasn't long enough. There are still questions that remain unanswered and songs unsung. May God Bless you. x

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks albertcowpoke. By the time we want to listen to them they are gone. A sad fact of life and something young people should take note of. Your Dad's location in the War would have meant a different set of challenges and battles. No-one escaped lightly back then. Yes we should count our blessings I think.

    • albertacowpoke profile image

      albertacowpoke 

      7 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

      Thank you for this moving post Ethel. My dad died way too young as well and was dragged across Europe with his siblings during World War II. I can, to some extent, relate to what you wrote here.

      Compared to us, our parents had a hard life and we most certainly would love to have adult conversations with them. It normally isn't until later in life that we realize what made our parents who they are and recognize their unique challenges. A great post Ethel.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes enjoy and love them whilst they are still with you :)

    • fucsia profile image

      fucsia 

      7 years ago

      My parents are both live. Your Hub made me understand the important of our relationship. Now I feel the desire to pass more time with them. Thank you very much for have wrote this page!

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Mike thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. As the song goes "you don't know what you have got its gone"

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 

      7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Great stuff, we all get caught up in living our lives when we are young, and trying to make our own way. While we live with mmom and dad all we want to do is grow up, move away from home and do our own thing.

      Most of us get caught up in our owm dreams and hardships making it easy for us to forget to think of how it must have been for our mothers, and dads, back in the day when they to were caught up in living one day at a time.

      My father also went through hell in war, the horor of war and its deamons had their effect on dad. Maybe it is better I do not know what that kind of hell was like to live with, and through.

      I still think it would be easier to understand why things were the way they were if I had a better understanding of what life was like for the mothers and dads that went off to fight a war.

      For me, I think both my father and mother, would be great to talk with about such things.

      Thanks for making me think about such things. Mike

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks HH Yes it is sad but good to remember as well. Perhaps you will write one about your Mum?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      I think in later we all have these questions, at least have, and the regret will always be there. The only consoltation I find is that I try and remember all the good time we had. With me it is my mother.

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