He died 36 years ago on the April 20th. He lived life fast and furious, running from his demons, running to his hell. He was my father, and I only knew him for 11 years of my life. He died of a heart attack at the age of 46. I believe that he could have lived longer if he was strong enough to fight for life.
During WW2 my father was a fighter pilot in the R.A.F. in England. Squadron Leader of a Mosquito Squadron fighting in the Italian theatre and Southern Europe as the war progressed. It must have been very stressful , but he did it well. He was a man’s man, and like the company of other men at the bar, drinking the pain away of yet another friend shot down and lost to all. My father did not like to talk about the war, nor the scars it must have left on him. But what war leaves any of our heroes without pain and bad memories, and perhaps a little fear of tomorrow.
After the war myy dad, Robert (Bob for short), was an importer and exporter of timber. He worked in the family business along with his brother Cyril, whom he hated with a passion. Cyril was a complete fool in business and ultra conservative, never wanting to expand or spend money, which put extra pressure on my dad, who could see the post-war possibilities. Although the business did well, with father running it, he had many conflicts with his brother, and I do believe that this is one of the things that contributed to his early death.
My mother and father had an opportunity to come to Canada some years before I was born, but my dad chickened out at the last minute, I really do feel that if he had come, he would have had a much longer life and a much more rewarding one. I now live here in Canada, in Vancouver B.C a place that I call home and a place that he would have loved.
I remember taking our dog Candy for walks when I was home from boarding school. We would talk and teach Candy new tricks. One time, when we where on one of our walks, the moon was so beautiful that it felt that you could see many countries on it. I saw the romantic side of my dad that night, and as I thought to myself that I would like to spend more time getting to know this man, little did I know that it was possibly the last walk we would take together forever.
I feel and have been told that I am a lot like my dad, and an awful lot like my grandmother Daisy. I feel Daisy’s presence a lot, and do believe that she is my guardian angle watching over me. Who knows what would have happened if he had lived, we might have got to know each other better, or he may have retreated into himself more.
My dad, Bob, did not feel comfortable with emotions or illness. Unfortunately I was a sickly child, and needed more attention than the others, I have a half sister Jane and a whole brother Sam. I have always loved to hug and be hugged, I never really place a high value on myself and my illness tiresome for everyone. I needed love and hugs to reassure me to help me breathe again and to feel wanted. I used to leave my radio on at night deliberately, so that my father would have to come in and switch it off. When I heard him open the door, I would close my eyes and pretend to be asleep. If he thought that I was awake he would chastise me, but if he thought that I was asleep he would kiss my brow. I would wait for hours for him to come and kiss my brow. I longed for the love that I needed from him.
It is not that he was a hard man, but only that he did not know how to show his emotions as it was not allowed when he grew up. Nannies and servants bought children up where they were seen and not heard, this is the way it was in those days.
My father loved sailing, he had a sailboat that we kept at the summer home. Every weekend that we could we would be down there watching him sail, my mother and I were to scared to get in the boat with him, as he sailed it like he raced his cars. (He was once a racing driver). After a sail, he would go down to the pub for a drink with the mates. He felt more comfortable in the company of men; he talked their talk and felt important in their company. This put a huge gap between himself and my mother, who was left alone far to often, only to receive a drunken husband at her door late at night.
I do think that if my dad was here today, I would be able to help him confront his emotions and understand the person he really was. I feel he was a victim of the war, like many of his generation. His pride and the lack of emotional care that is needed to bring up a child was probably not his fault.
He showed his love in little ways. He was a victim of the times, ‘the stiff upper lip Englishman’. It takes more courage to look in and to face up to one’s shortcoming than it does to lie to someone else. Maybe my dad did not know where to find this courage, maybe it was not allowed in those days, but whatever the reason it shortened his life.
I still miss him. I have three children, a cat and another dog, just like Candy. A Border collie. As I train the dog I try to remember how he and I trained Candy together, trying to hold to the few memories that I still have. I was very angry with him for years, dying on us like that, and not having the courage to fight harder for us to live for us. Now years later as I have fought my own demons I realize how hard it was for him. In understanding I learn to forgive, now I just miss him.
You will always be with me dad, and I see you in my son Tyler. You would be proud of them dad, I only hope that you have watched them grow up over the years and shared in their lives with me.
Be at peace and when you live again may it be a joyous life filled with love and joy and positive emotions.
Sara your little girl