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If you could spend a few hours with any person living or dead, who would it be? My late father of course
Both my parents died many years ago. I would love to spend time with both of them but, if I have to choose one person, that I would love to spend some time with, I would choose my Dad.
He died 6 years before my mother so in real terms I knew him such a short time. Now I am approaching 60 it seems so very short. Dad Died when I was 17, around 4 months before my 18th birthday.
I was still at school studying for my A'Level examinations, but all that changed suddenly. I was so young and had much growing up still to do. Dad had many demons, which he had not managed to oust. I imagine our relationship would have grown and developed down the years.
So my Dad, a little of who he was and why I have unfinished business with him.
Dad was born in Yorkshire in April 1914. It was the start of the first World War that year. 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 a toddler to bear. Dads were usually stern in those days.With a father away at sea it was decided that two maiden aunts would look after him, until a better solution could be found. One did present itself when Dad was 6. His father remarried and arrived to take his son to join a 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 was killed at sea. The vessel he was on was sank and all hands lost. It was the 1930s and Dad would have been in his early 20s I guess, give or take a year or two.
!939 and the Second World War began. Dad wanted to join the Royal Navy. Instead, after persuasion from his aunts, he joined the infantry. He served 7 years in Burma and India. Although the aunts feared the navy, after the loss of their brother, my grandfather, Dad would have probably fared better in the navy than in the infantry were he served King and country.
He came home, after being demobbed, in 1947. 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 was a shattered man.
In those days post traumatic stress disorder was unrecognized in the UK. As a very small child I remember Dad having malaria attacks. 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 returned. So much so that he attempted suicide. I was 14. Three years later he died of "natural" causes.
Dance with my father again
So why do I want to spend time with him?
Well firstly he was my Dad and I loved him to bits. Sure at times we fought but who doesn't. I remember plenty of fun times and days out also though. With age I realise just what my parents had to go through. I know that they did the very best they could for us. Money may been tight, especially if Dad was ill, but we wanted for nothing. Our educational and spiritual welfare was taken care of also. Our house where we lived was always a home to me and a place to want to return to.
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. His voice was lovely.
I would love to enjoy a cycle ride together. As a child I would struggle to keep up and Dad would place a hand on my shoulder to guide me along. "Lift you 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 grandad marry? Did they have any children? What vessel was grandad 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. Miss you Dad, even after all these years. RIP