Monday, 29 June 2009

Happy Birthday Dad



In 1924 on this day, my Dad was born, and therefore, you'll gather correctly - he's celebrating his birthday today - eighty five years old. I'm up early wrapping one or two gifts, before heading round to see if I can't drag him out to lunch or an early dinner later. Regrettably, much more so for him, either medication side-effects or causes unknown robbed him of most all sense of taste & smell a few years ago, so he's not exactly big on a good meal, still remembering what things should taste like, rather than the sometimes unexpected results he gets.

When I was a kid, plenty of post would arrive addressed to him as Reverend...., so clearly I knew he had been more than a little involved in a church of some sort, but in one of those family things where facts in plain sight are never spoken of, I only found out recently that he'd trained & planned to run a missionary church in China, being thwarted by what he described as the 'worsening situation' there, and being sent to New Zealand instead, which seems to me an odd sorta place for most any church to think needed ministers from half a world away, but those were the politics of the time I guess, and perhaps even now.

A religious household it wasn't though, despite the above - I could likely count church services attended by me on the fingers of one hand, but it's weirdly comforting and concerning that it's taken forty-odd years and a pretty major health scare, to bring any hint of those things to the surface. We sense, don't we?, when others are uncomfortable on a certain subject, and as children, take the lead from our parents as to what's on the table in terms of conversation topics (yep, there were and are, plenty more poignant & painful events), and it's worrying in a way, how unspoken pressures can defeat even the natural interest of a very inquisitive child... an often unfortunate learned behaviour I think, born of self-protection & then hung on the shielding of others; well-intentioned, yet ultimately secretive, even destructive.

A man can learn though eh, even at forty five, and I'm happy to be able to; lucky too, to be feeling so alive & optimistic, particularly compared with this date last year, which was not a happy time, oh Dear no. So I'm off to write a card, then scuttle round my Dad's & wish him a Happy Birthday.

Good Year for a Change - The Brilliant Mistakes
Distant Drumming (2008)
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"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And you have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray what is the reason for that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment -- one shilling a box --
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak --
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his fater, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose --
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father. "Don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs.


 
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