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Around The Sun: Say Goodbye You May Never See Them Again

Steve Harrison recalls a traumatic walk with his father.

I remember reading about English children being sent off to the countryside where they would be safe drom German bombs during the second world war. It was important for parents to tell those kids that they were loved because there was a possibility that they would never see them again.

I asked Dad if he could advise me on which direction my life should take. I was indecisive, in need of guiding words. We went for a walk down country lanes, past chicken sheds and rabbit runs. This was his favourite place for a walk. I wanted him to pass on some words of advice from the knowledge he had accumulated down the years.

“Should I marry Jacquie?”

There was no reply.

“Should I continue to read the Bible? Do you think there is a God”

Silence.

“Dad what direction should I be taking in my life right now? Which way should I go?''

Dad offered no advice. He said he thought his life had been a waste of time. He was in no position to offer directions to me. He had achieved nothing. He was uneducated, and he himself did not know which way to turn.

I was frustrated. Angry. Not with him. but with myself. I ran off and left him. I went to one of my favourite spots, a place which I thought my father knew about. I wanted him to come looking for me, to find me and take me home. I was being childish. I wanted him to tell me everything would be OK and not to worry about the future.

My father didn't find me. Years later my mother told me that he had spent hours looking for me and fretting, wondering where I had gone.

That was the last time I had a serious conversation with my father.

I decided to go to Australia. The first thing I did when I arrived in that country was to write a long letter to dad. By then I had had time to think things over. I told him that I had been childish, self-centred and foolish. I told him I loved him deeply and asked him to forgive me. It was a letter filled with joy and optimism I told him that I missed him, that I wanted him to always be proud of his son.

I had managed to get the courage together to leave Jacquie. I had been in Australia some months when two telegrams arrived. The first said my dad was desperately ill and wanted to see me. The second, which I read minutes after the first, said that dad had died.

The loving letter which I had written to him was still in my jacket pocket. He never read it.

When you say your goodbyes always tell those you love just how much you really do love them. You may never again get the chance to do so.

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