He’s gone – In the name of Thiago – Day 149
This last few days has all been about getting Dad to understand that he has his own house to live in now but when he fairly suddenly upped and left this afternoon, as I was having a late lunch, it rather caught me on the hop.
We’d spoken about him spending his first night at his new place either yesterday or today but there’s talking about it and there’s the moment where it becomes a reality. Those things for many people, let along my old man specifically, tend to have a fairly lengthy pause between them, and of course that’s what causes the anguish. You don’t want to look like you’re pushing someone out the door but at the same time neither do you want to be forever at their behest.
This seems as good a time as any to talk about the feelings that I have for not fulfilling my father’s hopes and expectations. In his eyes it was simple. His father had set up Smith and Gibbs in 1946, Dad then inherited the reins from my Grandad at some point in the 1980s. In Dad’s mind I expect he had thoughts that he would hand over the reins to me as the eldest of his three children in the noughties, when the time came.
The problem was that I had no aptitude for skilled manual labour. I felt just as sad about this as he did, though I never spoke about that with him. Here was this great opportunity to maintain a strong family business – something that truly meant something to people – and I just didn’t have what it took to do it. It just wasn’t me.
Instead I took up playing cricket although to be fair I was pretty fucking useless at that too. I quickly lost confidence in my teenage years and threw away my education as I became increasingly despondent at how I wasn’t particularly good at anything. Before you start getting too sympathetic this was of course how I felt as a teenager. Yes I struggled terribly as the weight of expectation became too much to bear, but I was ok. Relatively speaking. After all teenagers are hardly noted for their sense of perspective.
I think Dad was still proud of me but he found it hard as well I think, to understand why I couldn’t simply follow in his footsteps. Smith and Gibbs was wound up in 1996 so it’s almost irrelevant now I suppose, and the industry of boat building is unrecognisable today from that of even the early 90s as I remember it. I know Dad misses those times so much. They were happy times, simpler times. They certainly were for Dad at least.
But whatever I turned out not to be, I know that I can still make Dad proud in other ways. To be entirely honest, I am fairly settled in my way of life as it is. Yes, I realise that working for a local authority in a very junior role is a poor representation of what I could be doing in my mid-40s, but frankly it could be worse and there is still time to achieve something meaningful.
Hopefully this blog is an example of that and besides, not all meaningful things are achieved in careers. There are many high earning people out there who are absolute shitbags in life. My priorities are aligned far more sensibly these days, something that I’ll never take a backward step from, especially since my little boy died last year.
While I struggle with the relationship I have with my own dad, my attention is very much focussed on how I honour the legacy of my little hero – the one I know would have made me so proud no matter what he fucking did. Well he can’t show us now what a great man he would have become, so I have to honour him. Every day.
You can help me do that folks by keeping those donations coming as I sit here with tears streaming down my fucking face again. Please tell your friends what I’m doing, share my blog and my fundraising page as widely as you can. Every donation is so valuable and gives me such a lift.