After many years of feeling the loss of my father its only recently that I have reflected more deeply on why I find myself missing him so much. He died back in 2001 the day before 9/11, almost as though he knew there would be work to do!
I can get caught unawares and then end up crying like one of the Lost Boys from Neverland. The most recent episode being when I was watching the latest Cinderella film directed by Kenneth Branagh. Despite the Disney heritage it was a surprisingly good production and the scene that caught me unawares was the one where the old king, played by Derek Jacobi, was dying and telling his son to marry for love. Yeah – ok – clichéd or what? Also Mr Jacobi is someone who strongly resembles my father in his later years so it was probably no surprise that this scene reduced me to tears.
But I wanted to understand just where this sense of loss was really coming from.
I remember my mother commenting about Dad and saying how he was a dreamer. He would see things differently and was a very gentle person who loved children very much, seeing something great in them – a facet he inherited from his mother who was always looking after the waifs and strays of the neighbourhood. I particularly remember how he could just sit with my daughter and just ‘be’. He had a way of sitting back in his mind’s eye, holding back his preconceptions and waiting to see what the world was really showing him.
It was when I saw his nature in this light – that it hit me between the eyes. He was one of those rare folk who could SEE. I don’t mean visions & things, I mean he could see BEHIND what the world was presenting and give it a bit of deeper experiential thought.
In this time of surfaces and quick fixes it is something I truly miss.
It is worth recounting one of his family anecdotes, a great story from his younger years. He was not well educated, having left school at an early age and from there becoming a consummate dancer and small-time actor – though you couldn’t tell from a performance of his in one of the Ealing comedies!
He once told me about a time when he was listening to friends from work as they were discussing something about current affairs. His friends were all highly educated and of an intellectual turn of mind and until this point he had always been shy of joining in, feeling that his lack of education held him back. However, the more he listened to the conversation, the more he realized that his friends didn’t have a clue about the issues, despite their education, and that in many cases he could see things more clearly than they could.
It was obviously one of those great epiphanies for him and thereafter he stopped holding himself back, and allowed his more experiential take on the world to blossom into a truly foundational wisdom.
There are times when I could do with hearing some of his wisdom
But what it has given me is a deep thankfulness for his beautiful parenting, his wise words and his insight that great education does not necessarily lead to great wisdom.
It is worth noting that although he might like this post, he would feel deeply embarrassed on the outside and most likely crack an awful ‘Daddy’ joke to defuse the feeling!
But what the hell.
Here’s to you Dad, a gentle teacher and seer.