My Father In Reflection
03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018
The series is a journey of reflection and a final honour to laying the ghosts and demons that have been with me since l was five.
An unsual and warped piece of writing from my Father, and most assuredly a piece intended for his writing classes. It contains information from his own life intermingled with some fantasy, and directed towards his own parents. Ironically ‘Jasmine’, was the family cat, and was my cat, who came back with us from Australia, in the days when quarantine for animals from abroad was for six months. I remember the day we picked her up from in 1978 from the cattery in Dover, Kent.
His Father was never awarded the DFC, and neither was my Father, but of course Dad was in the RAF/RAAF, and whilst he was awarded a medal in 2015, it was for service and not for gallantry.
He never visited his parents home for the ‘clear out’ either which caused a lot of negativity from his siblings who were in the UK. My Mother had pleaded with him for his Father’s sake to help, but he refused, such was the relationship between his own Father and himself. He had not been present for his Mothers or much later Father’s end of days, and especially on the latter, preferring to listen to ‘cricket scores’ in the hospital car park as his Dad died upstairs.
An unusual piece to say the least, as he describes his own house set up for the television and videos. I was astonished at my Father’s collection of videos when l attended to the clear out last month, an old market for sure with not many households having VHS Recorders anymore. However, Dad had a collection of 300 both bought copies and self-recorded copies.
A strange piece indeed, but l am his Son and can see between the lines, see the truth, see the memories, l was not his writing class teacher who marked it as ‘exceptional’.But hey, it’s just a story, and l am just cynical.
“The Old Photograph Album”
He stood just inside the door of the once familiar room and looked around. The memories, long asleep, flooded back, and assailed his brain, causing his eyes to sting. He rubbed the back of his index finger underneath his eyelashes, and dried it on his shirt. He’d better get on with things, before someone came in and told him to hurry up.
He picked up a handful of CD’s and turned them sideways to look at the titles. Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Chris Rea, and what’s this, Mark Knoffler? He put them all on the floor, and pulled aside the television to get to the videocassettes. They, too, ended up on the floor, alongside the CD’s. What will I do with all of these? I haven’t got enough room for everything. There was something else behind the videos, a photograph album. He had not seen that in years, and had forgotten about its existence.
He pulled it out, and noted the thin film of dust which seemed appropriate to its age. He took his handkerchief, blew off the worst of the dust, and wiped the rest with the hankie. He opened the pages, flicking through them, before moving to the armchair and sitting down. He turned the pages more slowly now, lingering over special memories. And there he was, in RAF uniform, smiling broadly, his cap set at an angle, his prized wings just showing on his tunic. And the ribbon of the DFC underneath the wings. How different the world had been then, a better place in some ways, a worse place in other ways. No, on balance, a better place.
He turned another page, and a photograph leaned drunkenly, held by only one of the little corners. Jean stared at him, head inclined slightly, almost quizzically, confident and assured in the full flowering of womanhood. Nothing bothered Jean, not four children, not the war, not a shortage of money. She had been indomitable. Indomitable, that was the word, all her life, until she died. It had only taken a week from diagnosis until her death. God, how he had missed her. The love of his life. The focal point of his life, to use a modern term. No point in living after Jean had gone, but he had to, so they told him.
And here were the children, on the beach at Torquay, posed, but smiling, buckets and spades held aloft like trophies. And here was Jasmin, stretched out on the seat in the garden, her head resting on her front paws, her eyes half open in the manner of cats. He could almost hear her purring, like an old Singer sewing machine. And speaking of Singers, here it was. He turned the page and the Gazelle, with its daring two-tone paint job, posed proudly beside the family. I wonder where that car is now?
He turned another page, and there was Stella’s wedding pictures, all very conventional. They were shown signing the register, standing in the church door, getting into the Daimler. It was the only time she had been in a Daimler in her life. He had been so proud to march down the aisle to give his daughter away. The sun had shone all day, that far off July.
He finished the album and put it down carefully. That must not be thrown out, it contained his life. His wife came into the room. “George, are you all right?”
He wiped his eyes again, but with his hankie; she didn’t like him wiping his tears on his shirt. “Yes, love, I’m Ok. Sorting out Dad’s things brings back memories.”
Written by my Father B.M