Sorry, this is arriving a little late for ‘Father’s Day’, but I hope things are going well. Your three great-grandchildren are fine… the kids send their regards.
I’ve come across a lot of your things during our current move.
I found your official black and white 8×10 navel photograph: full uniform and double-breasted overcoat, with your cap slightly cocked to one side – your broad smile reminiscent of a young, handsome 1940’s movie star.
I see that you enlisted early in the 2nd of the “great wars” – upholding a proud family tradition. Yet, I found papers indicating that, in less than a year, you were discharged as medically “unfit for duty” due to an epileptic seizure. How devastating that must have been for you… such a loss of self-esteem!
As a kid, I remember how frightening it was to see you shaking uncontrollably on the floor while shocked adults tried to subdue your convulsing body. Thankfully, drugs were developed to control these seizures. I know your generation didn’t like to talk openly – choosing to keep things locked inside – however, I feel I would have better understood “you” if you had.
“Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got” – The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanic
Reading through your diaries – back during those nasty divorce years – I remember dealing with my own issues as a young teenager; never realizing how you suffered as well… especially missing mum. Your words convey a sense of loss and fading hope: you wanted her back; she said it was too late; I struggled on.
“Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye”
But, I also remember the fun times:you letting my band practice at home – windows wide open – entertaining the neighbours, whether they liked it or not. And, after all these years, we’ve reunited as “Reunion.” Your determination, then, made our music possible, today.
“I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears”
And, because of your influence – especially through your writings – I learned not to prejudge people. Being imperfect, you’d think we’d all know the folly of stubbornly expecting perfection from others.
“I wasn’t there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say…
I just wish I could have told him in the living years”
Now that my dad is gone, I find myself mentally packing his old navy kit-bag full with memories of both the good and not-so-good years… proud to “carry” it the rest of my life. But, if I could, I’d write, “Dear dad, I miss you … would give anything to have you back… have the talk we never had.”
Love, Fred Jr.