What I Have Recently Learned From My Dad
My Dad will be 79 this coming October. Health wise he is doing great. Even after two hip replacement operations a couple of years ago, he walks about a mile and a half every single day without fail. His mind is still sharp and his memory superb.
He was divorced from my Mother some 47 years or so ago and he never remarried. Currently, at his ripe age he is pursuing a new girlfriend some 30 years his junior! I will let you reflect on your own opinions on that one, which will already be there in your mind.
Now I can be honest about him in this post as he is not tech savvy and never has been. The chances of him reading this are about as high as getting an unbiased opinion on whether we should vote in or out of Europe.
I missed growing up with him as my Mother (Who is now deceased) moved us all down to Cornwall with her new fella when they divorced, some 350 miles away. I was 7. Since I was 18 I have seen him a lot more, except for the years I lived overseas.
As he gets older more things become obvious about him and one of those is a further reinforcement or reminder for me and something we all know – or should do.
He is full of deep regret
My Dad did national service back in the day. When he met my Mother he was in dead-end jobs and most of the time, out of work. No wonder my Nan (On my Mother’s side) wanted her to meet and marry a lawyer or an accountant, like she had.
After the divorce he had a job for about 12 years at an underprivileged kids home as a handy-man. He loved it there. But the school closed down and he became unemployed.
After that he never really worked again. It knocked him for six. He lost all his confidence and had no personal belief in himself.
Now, when I talk to him, his voice and body language is filled with huge regret.
He used to play the flute and write music. With his creative mind he also invented a lot of characters that lived (And still do) in the imaginary world he made for himself.
One, a Mrs Postlewaite, he would do impressions of when you went round to visit him. He still does them now from time to time. When I was in my 20’s I would get embarrassed when in public, at his sudden, impulsive desires to perform what Mrs. Postlewaite thought about public transport.
He usually comes out with these characters when he is feeling emotional. He can’t express feelings and never has been able to. Even when he was so very hurt after losing two of his children his emotions were, on the large part, hidden and undetected.
Intelligence, talent or skills are not enough to pursue what you want in life. Self-Confidence is the deciding factor. That ensures you take action on your dreams.
Although now, through regret I suspect, he is starting to openly cry whenever we reminisce about my lovely late brother and sister. I don’t think he ever told them he loved them. He’s never told me but he doesn’t have to; I know he does.
His major regret is not pursuing his music. He loves classical and can listen to any snippet and he will tell you the composer and the piece.
Just yesterday he told me that he was the best recorder player at school. But that his parents never encouraged him to play. “I should have sent my music off to publishers Bob,” he said with watery eyes as we sat drinking tea.
This made me think back to when I lived with him in my twenties. He was rapidly losing his hair at the time and he used to pump out a piece he had written called The March of the Bald Headed Men.
(Please Note: My Dad is the ONLY person in the world who I let call me Bob. Please, no emails…Dear Bob…)
I tried to tell him that it is never too late, because it isn’t. But with my Dad…who has opinions set in granite, it is too late. In his set mind, he should have done it all those years ago. I left it at that. Trying to convince someone who has lacked self-confidence for over 40 years that he can do it, is a tough ask.
Not impossible, but tough.
But he’s my Dad and I love him. I felt deeply sorry for him yesterday. I could not only sense his regret, I could see it etched in his face and hear it in his voice.
Don’t End up Like My Dad
So many people talk about not going to the grave with regrets. Social Media memes are floating around the web every other week.
But just because something is common knowledge does not necessarily mean something is common practice.
You have a God-given gift. It shouldn’t be your dream to share this. It should be your duty.
I know you have a unique talent and a gift. There is something that you can do that will change or influence the lives of others. It could be anything. But there is something that nobody else on the planet can do quite like you.
Give it a try. It is not the success, the glamour, the fame or the possible money my Dad regrets from not pursuing his love of music. It is the giving it a shot he bleakly rues over. He knows it is now too late for him.
Knowing my Dad as I think I do, he wouldn’t have been bothered about all the possible material rewards from becoming a producer of beautiful flute music; it would have been the personal satisfaction, the fulfillment that he would have enjoyed. And the fact that he gave it his best shot
And on that level, he is absolutely right.
Why not go and talk to your ageing parents or grandparents. You can learn vital lessons from their wisdom and experiences.