I have thought long and hard about my Dad recently, he died just a little over a year ago and for all sorts of reasons I couldn’t say anything at his funeral, now it’s another Fathers Day.
My uncle Robert did an awesome job of talking about him at the crematorium, and what he meant to his siblings as a big brother and who he was as a man. My Dad was poor growing up and was taken out of school at 14 to work, he worked every day of his life, until his body let him down, he always took care of his family. He saved every day and me and my Mum never went for anything we wanted or needed. He valued education because his was cut short and he was determined I would not have to work so hard it broke my body. He was a solid rock and I miss him every day.
Of course it is just true he was better than everyone else’s Dad because he was my Dad and he loved me unconditionally although we did not always get along all the time, I did however always know I was loved. We would argue about politics, religion and life and I miss that, he would always listen and answer.
He taught me how to pull a splinter, he spat water in my eyes when I had dirt in them, he picked me up and cleaned off my knees when I fell down. He taught me to swim and dive into the deep end of the pool/lake or ocean. He taught me how to be a man, a husband and a father. He taught me to garden, although I hated it, he would laugh as I tried to push the lawnmower. He made me hate games because he never let me win. He always worked to find interests we could talk about or do together.
I want to share one memory towards the end. It was one of the last surgeries he had in 2018 I think. I came home because he was not sure that it would go well. The night before the surgery we sat and watched TV and talked after my Mum had gone to bed. I thought he would want to watch something light but he had a real need to watch the documentary about Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood Speech he had recorded. His reason was he was seeing some of that hatefulness of Powell seeping into UK life from conversations he was having with friends and others. He wanted to challenge himself to better understand the racist world he had lived in and may have contributed to, and he wanted to do this the day before a surgery he may not survive.
Think about that, it was important he continue to improve himself even to what may be the end.
During the film, he sat and occasionally wiped his eyes as he remembered how racist the bus company in St. Helens and Ford motors and the railways he worked on as a lad and the post office job he loved, had been and how he had been complicit in it by not speaking up at times. He also talked about how immigrants had been treated and continued to be treated, his talk was often conflicted and he could understand why people would be afraid of immigrants and other races. He often came back to this idea that it was fear that caused his inaction at times, he struggled with why he was afraid and why others were afraid.
At the end of the film he was silent and mumbled that man was evil about Powell.
Now my Dad was not perfect, he did join the Conservative club after all because the bingo prizes were better. I am not either. He did however teach me the most important lesson ever, he taught me to always be open to the idea that my biases needed to be challenged and that often they are based in fear.
If a 70 plus man on the day before a life threatening surgery could confront his own biases and fears, we can from the comfort of our isolated worlds confront our own fears and biases and speak out. My Dad was no saint and never pretended to be, and I won’t lie and pretend he was either, he was an honest person about himself and his own behaviors though, sometimes that was painful for him but it made him a better brother, husband and father.
Happy Father’s Day.
If you want to watch the BBC documentary Rivers of Blood it’s here:
If you want to hear a great song about racism and hatred by a great old Liverpool band go here:
Maybe go to both and if you like the song and find yourself agreeing with some of the vileness Powell is spewing ask the question what are you afraid of?