Thursday, December 02, 2010


After reading Alcibiades moving account of his father, I feel I should blog about my Dad.

We were never really close. When we were going through Mum's papers, my sister gave me a photo of him. She says I sniffed and put it aside. I cannot find it at the moment. She wrote me an email about how he was proud of me. She was very close to him.

When I was young, my parents went through a bad patch. Dad was running a failing business. He often came home in a foul mood after drinking. The arguments often ended when I burst into tears or had an asthma attack.  Rightly or wrongly I tended to take Mum's side.  My sister did not see much of this as she, although still living at home, was a young adult and often away.
Dad sold the business and went to work for a company and things between Mum and Dad improved but I think the damage had been done. Mum kept his photo by her bedside for the 32 years she lived as a widow.

We did not have much in common.  Dad spent the weekend tinkering with cars. I still know very little more about cars than how to drive. I have never lifted the bonnet of the new car I bought last February and am confused if a new light comes on the dashboard. I do not like driving.
Dad was not a keen sportsman and so he never encouraged me in that area. He had played cricket and was at school with Don Bradman.  I remember my grandfather trying to teach me to catch a ball (without success) but do not remember any games with my father, although we did go swimming at times.

My Grandfather was a staunch Methodist and drove his son away from the church. Dad was a bit bemused at having a son who spent all weekend at church. He did hear me preach and I am grateful that, after his first heart attack, he regularly attended for the last 6 months of his life.  Although my grandfather was a primary school principal, Dad left school at 15 and worked as a salesman. When I at first failed to gain a university scholarship, Mum talked him into allowing me to attend and paying the fees. However he was proud when I gained my degree.

I only once went to the hotel for a drink with him although in the later years of his life I was spending a lot of time drinking.  I was 30 when he died.  I had left on a 9 month world trip just 4 days earlier and had reached Bangkok.  I returned home immediately but, to be honest, that was more to be with Mum than because of any deep feelings for him. He was not cruel, Mum was more the disciplinarian. They were both fairly strict because they had been wild themselves in their younger days.

While I had told Mum I was gay, my father was never told and when I was being "treated" it had to be hidden from him. I have no idea what he would have thought.

Dad was a heavy smoker and I now believe that was a cause of my asthma as a child. Thankfully I grew out of it but I did hate his smoking near me. He only gave up after that first heart attack.

I suppose I now just feel sad that we did not have a close father-son relationship.
I am posting a photo of their wedding in 1930 when Dad was 23 and Mum 21

and at my graduation in 1966 when I was 22 and he was 59. My Sister and Aunt (Mum's much older sister) are also in the photo.
I have now this month reached the same age as he was when he died.


Leonard said...

Thank you Brian, I enjoyed visiting you and your family--I think ¨being¨ who we are is still sometimes difficult for others to take in--we´re quite a surprise (and you and I finished college the same year--it took me five as I worked as a Department Store executive trainee at the same time).

Love the picture of graduation (did we ever really look like that? lol).

Happy memories,


Paul said...

Thanks, Brian. I was never close to my father either and appreciate your sharing here. I graduated in 1968, same era. I suppose we did really once look like that though it is hard to believe.

Malcolm+ said...

I'm a trifle younger, but here is a blogpost of mine from earlier this year.

motheramelia said...

Thank you for another glimpse into your life.