Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Prompted by Dale's recent post:

I think of my father particularly at this time of the year. He died in April over a decade ago, during the bluebell season.


I was eleven years old and heading towards a difficult adolescence, my sister, L, around one year. At her bedtime and because she insisted, my father - in his late forties by now - would carry her around the living room, moving from picture to picture, object to object, stopping briefly at each.

Goodnight ships (in front of a picture) ... goodnight other ships ... goodnight table ... goodnight trees ... goodnight window.

During the ritual my sister clutched her favourite stuffed toy, a koala bear. The pronounciation defeated her. The rest of the family followed her lead and called it Kayola.


He was at his best with babies and very small children: something tense and taut unwound and his defences lowered a fraction to display a quiet tenderness. He would have doted on grandchildren almost certainly, but neither L nor I were cut from a conventional nor a maternal cloth.


Our relationship feels easier at this distance. I struggled. So did he. The difficulties - there were a lot - matter less, his integrity and humour matter more.


den said...

I love the description of your fathers bedtime ritual, it's funny the things that stir the half forgotten. Your description of him was a touching tribute. There has been lots of literature on mothers and their children, but I have never come across any about fathers. I have no memory of my father being a father really, you have sparked a thread of thought.

Sky said...

i wish i could utter the words of your last sentence with any kind of personal truth. i wish integrity could even be discussed, much less humor. even with my mother's recent death my father continues to show the uglier sides of himself which alienate everyone who could possibly care for/about him. he has done this all my life without breaks. before too long he will know the meaning of truly being alone. my mother's death also brings me freedom - from him.

i am glad there were redeeming qualities in your relationship. there is comfort in that, even in the light of difficulty. you are lucky.

hope you are doing well and that the pains are subsiding.

leslee said...

Lovely post, mm. I'm heading out to visit my own father for a few days starting this weekend. My mother was the difficult one, and his difficulties mostly related to her. We have a pretty easy time together. I'll be thinking of both your post and Dale's.

Dale said...



Zhoen said...


mm said...

Den: Thank you. Yes, I'd almost forgotten the ritual and I wrote the post to record it for posterity as no-one else can now. Being so young at the time my sister has no memory of it ...

Sky: I think there are some relationships that cannot be redeemed - at least in this life - and moving on is the only sane thing to do ...

I'm doing much better, thanks.

Leslee: May the few days with your dad go well.

Dale, Zhoen: Thanks both.