It was not the childhood memories that upset me most the other day. It was the newspaper cuttings. And here they are – they enlarge quite readably – and you’ll see what I mean.
I’ve been thinking about my father a lot recently, as it happens, triggered by a photo of my baby grandson Hadrian, in whom I recognised my father’s smile and eyes. And then this … the second article was written by a reporter called G**rge Sm*11m*n – I saw him again as it happens, about three years ago at a Hindu wedding I went to in Lowestoft. I recognised him immediately and we had a lovely chat. You can see the shock and feeling of loss that went into the article, but it isn’t exaggerated, you know. It’s true.
What I have felt a keen sense of loss for, during the past 42 (nearly) years is not the person described, of course, but the father I knew and loved, and what I’ve so regretted is that I didn’t have the opportunity to reach maturity and get to know him as a person as well as my daddy. But reading these and other newspaper clippings, I’ve realised that I’ve spent much of my life, in particular the last 23 years, unknowingly trying to model myself on him. I’ve always wondered, and increasingly so of late, why I have such a huge sense of duty, why I have to feel that I’m contributing to *the community* (whatever that means) and why I feel that it is, outside my family, my purpose in life.
I’m not so unusual in that, of course, I know plenty of others, and many people do far more than I. Nor am I suggesting that it is because my father died relatively young that I have turned in that direction. I don’t feel I am proving myself to his memory or anything like that. I said that the past shapes you, but to be shaped is not necessarily to be scarred. I’d probably have gone in much the same way, whatever happened. However, I do feel I’ve learned something about myself in the last couple of days. And, although I was terribly upset when reading all the tributes, the account of his funeral and memorial service and so on, I hope I’m going to find it a comfort as time goes on. So much love and respect. But such a loss. One never really gets over it, you know.