My heart belongs to Daddy...
Written: 22nd Feb 2011 | Last Updated: 22nd Feb 2011
A girl never gets over losing her Dad.
You do learn to carry the excruciating burden of loss as well as you can, strapped yoke-like across your shoulders; but in your heart of hearts, you never really let him go.
Growing up, I was the only girl in a family of four kids; that put me in a special position, one that allowed a few privileges my brothers didn’t have, and a good deal less judgement from my parents. If their expectations were set lower for me - because females were supposed to develop into accomplished stay-at-home wives and mothers in that era - I didn’t mind; in fact, I appreciated it, and reciprocated by behaving well almost always, even throughout my teenage years, and in time, became a passionate, fulfilled wife and mother to my own family. I didn’t copy their template exactly, being a creative person with independent hopes and desires, but in many ways I did follow in their footsteps, establishing family as my sacred and wondrous life-work.
Fathers in the 1950s and 60s were more often than not pretty tough on their sons; it was a carry-over from fustier times when parents built home life within walls of regimental strictness and socially acceptable proprieties; but also, and more importantly, it was a product of the double-whammy of the Great Depression and World War II; these shaped my mother & father, their siblings and friends in myriad ways - they suffered, and were permanently marked by years of fear, separation, deprivation and risk. During their late teens and early 20s, death was all around them - many of their contemporaries were lost in downed aircraft, sunken ships and on battlefields. That made life serious, damned serious; most men were in uniform, most women were doing volunteer work on the home front, and while fun could be had when time and furloughs allowed, they carried grave responsibilities in a way you just don’t see now - stoically, earnestly, without complaint.
Today’s kids often take (hard won) privileges for granted, and very often don’t fully mature until a decade or two beyond voting age, many choosing to live at home (with Mum still doing their washing) until their late 30s / early 40s, dedicating salaries to weekend binges, nice cars and holidays abroad; yet they complain of being under the pump, exhausted by the pace of 21st century life. Really? Tell that to a veteran.
The so-called Greatest Generation endured; it built a post-war world that elevated standards of living, accelerated industrial and agricultural development, generated vast leaps in information technology; it sought to create a better future for families, one that would make kids feel excited by, not afraid of, what the next day might bring. These were the greatest of gifts you could pass on.
I wish I could thank my father now.