History never repeats , I tell myself before I go to sleep. – Split Enz
I don’t want to be like you. I had hated and despised my Dad for many years. This was the final insult and I was resolute in trying hard not to be like Dad. He had been such a terrible role model. My memories of Dad were coloured by all the violent times, the mental illness the drunken times.
At the age of 9 Mum was taken in a car accident. I went to Boarding School in AKL .. a tale for another day.
In the holidays I would go home to Rotorua to Dad. I would ring Dad every now and then to touch base or write letters. He never heard me as he never wore his hearing aids
My first job was in AKL . Loose plan was to save money to go to Art school when I was 21.
When I was about 18 or 19 my Dad gave me that talk …”You’re just like me” “History repeats”was one of the statements that stuck in my throat.
When I did go to Art School in 1983 I called Dad fairly regularly. At least once a term. Maybe it was the distance But something began to happen. The distance and the phone calls to Dad seem to change in our relationship. Dad was deaf and wore his hearing aids at will.
A Classic line he said to my sister was when asked about using his hearing aids was . Yes Sue but I don’t need to hear what you say.
But something happened maybe Dad started wearing his hearing aids or the phone ear piece got better.
The phone seemed to give me access to his ear. I was son number six , I was a long way down the line from the shining star of Number 1 son.
But during these phone calls , which were nothing profound or deep in any way . They were just calls to say hi. We finally got to know each other I could tell he listened. I also listened to him.
I started to accumulate fond memories. The old negative memories are still there but I was now getting to know Dad. I had his full attention . I had a Dad
And so I need not be angry or need to dwell on all those bad times. I’m so glad this happened really, because its an impossible task trying not to be someone. My Dad is a part of me and this was the ahah moment.
My life with Dad from then on was good. I enjoyed many many years of love and affection for my Dad. I was proud of him rather than ashamed as I had been.
There were some times though that tested me. Christmas and gifts were odd. John still was number one Son he got cool presents at Xmas. Dad would always talk about Johns achievements. But not mine or other bros …It was all John. Hard to change a habit of a life time.
I had the privilege of keeping vigil on Dad’s last night on earth he was 88. He kept waking and saying “Is that you John (Number 1 son)” . No Dad he will be here in the morning about 9:30 am . He was on his way from the US to come to Dads side.
It was truly humbling to hold his hand and just be there with him through the night.
The next afternoon he passed peacefully and John was holding his hand . He had waited for John to show up.
In the coming week I organised the funeral and was MC . That’s a whole other story . It was a beautiful send off.
After the service relatives and friends of the family came to give me hugs and a lot of them said
“You’re just like your Dad” or “I see so much of Eddie in you”. It was humbling and comforting.
So it seems History does repeat. But not all of it. There’s no violence in this iteration and also working on the temper. I’m hoping that the next generation is not just a repeat of history also.
So yes history never repeats …I still tell myself before I go to sleep.
PS: Some of the temper and sharp tongue comes from Mum. I only had Mum for nine years. She was the fave. But she could just as easily give you a good thrashing and a good telling off. Tear you to shreds. Must have been a match those 2.
PPS . When I met Charlotte she seemed to have the qualities that are aspirational the consummate Mum. I knew immediately she was the one.
PPPS . It emerged last year that I was indeed no 7 child. Dad had got my Aunt pregnant before she met her hubby . Dads brother Fred.