Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thematic Photographic 127 : Family


This man was my father.

When I was born, he was 65 years old. My mother was 45. He had been married for more than 30 years to a woman who was institutionalised for most of those years, because of mental health problems. They never had children. Finally, her death liberated both of them.

A few years later he met my mother, a widow with four daughters, the youngest of whom was about 9 years old. They married, and he was a wonderful stepfather to her girls – but he always spoke with regret of never having had a child of his own.  So, although she must have previously felt that her days of having kids were finished, and although it must have been scary to become pregnant at her age, she allowed that to happen.

He doted on me. Everyone said that they had never seen a man adore a child as he did me.

When I was 3 years old, and he was 68, he died, suddenly, of a heart attack. Apparently, I became sick with grief when he “disappeared”.
I wish I had known him. Because of his age he was probably never going to see me become an adult, but I wish I had known him long enough to have some memories of him. What memories there are, are buried deep in my psyche, and are more like scars.

I know little of him, sadly – my mother spoke of him very little, and the few things I do know came from the two eldest of my half-sisters. He was a farmer. His parents were born in Scotland, and emigrated to New Zealand for a better life. He was very tall – 6 feet 4 inches. He loved me.

I have my father's colouring, his bone structure, his chin. My son has his height, and we both have his enquiring mind and his intellect.

Hei maumaharatanga


  1. Oh my. How hard on your mother that must've been to be widowed at 48 or 49 with a pre-schooler BESIDES her other children. What a strain! What did she do for a living?
    Yes, I'm sorry you lost your dad without ever knowing him, but it's your mother's story that must truly be the interesting one here. Do share it, if you will.

  2. This has to be one of the most poignant stories I have read in some time. The love you feel is in each and every word. My, what a handsome man he was..

    Your Mom is a wonderful woman as well..
    Loved this!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your dad's - and your - story with us. I hung on every word, wishing alongside you that you could have had more time.

    Today is a very sad anniversary in our community (link below). I wish I had words to fix the unfixable, but I know how life works, and there's no going back from loss.

    I'm comforted by how much of his goodness is baked into your DNA. He did a wonderful job, even though he wasn't around to see the results.

  4. What a moving story, thank you for sharing it x

  5. Thank you everyone for your words.

    PBW: her story is indeed interesting, and very complex. I will share it one day :)

    Carmi: thanks for the links. Sad reading. I still remember your earlier posts this year, too, about the loss of your mentor, and about the anniversary of your father's death.

    Lynne and Juniper: it actually really helped me to write this, strangely enough.

    Isn't the blogosphere a strange place?

  6. You bring tears to my eyes, what a very loving and touching life, and msot handsome looking can just see in his eyes love, devotion and wisdom....thanks for bringing him to light for us.....this is a true sense of family!

  7. The blogosphere is a wonderful place indeed. It is, in so many ways, an extended family as well. And it's been instrumental in my own journey this past year.

    Words - and the people behind them - are remarkably powerful.

  8. In his autobiography, Eric Clapton tells of how he never knew his real father either, but felt that when he looked into his son's eyes he was able to see into his father's eyes and know him that way. This was the inspiration for the song, "Father's Eyes."
    You say that your son has much of your father in him. It sounds like, in a way, you're knowing your dad through your son. Take Care!

  9. Good. And make sure you let me know, okay? I really want to read it. :)

  10. A moving story sorry to hear you did not get the time to get to know him.

  11. Thanks guys. I appreciate your stopping by


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