Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Had he lived, tomorrow my father would have been 102.   As it is, he passed away at the age of just 62 and each year when his birthday comes around, I get to think about his life and the difference between his and my own.  We all live in our own time and in our own circumstances, of course, which makes it impossible to compare a life in today`s world with one in a former age.   And I`m not quite sure why I feel the need to write this at all - it might be a sentimental reflection on years gone by;  it might be that I feel an urge to say things about my father that might make me feel better;  or maybe it`s a way of expressing regrets and missed opportunities.

Anyway, I won`t bore you with all the details of my father`s life, but the main chapters in his story included being sent off to become a boy soldier at the age of 15, as the family bakery business would not sustain another family `employee;  spending 18 years in the army, five of which were spent in a Prisoner of War Camp (Stalag V111B at Lamsdorf in Silesia); surviving (just) the `death march` before repatriation;  being discharged from the army as his physical condition no longer `met the requirements`; working hard before a premature retirement and living constantly with the effects of his wartime experiences which contributed to his sudden and untimely passing.

Not a lot of joy there and I compare it all to my own experiences which were always coloured by the fact that I really didn`t see and meet my father until I was nearly six, when he staggered up the road from the bus stop in his demob suit with a kit bag over his shoulder.  For me, the sudden appearance of this stranger in my life changed everything and I`m not sure either he or I ever came to terms with that change.  

Maybe I can best sum it up by suggesting that my own life has, with one or two notable exceptions, been a series of crossroads leading to choices as to which journey to take, whereas my father seemed always to be confronted with a series of one-way streets or roads with `No Entry` signs barring the way until eventually he settled for a cul-de-sac which resulted only in his anxieties becoming more and more acute.

And it leaves me thankful that my own life has been more blessed than my father`s ever was, that I have had the crossroads of choice and the good fortune of living a life more full and secure than he ever knew. I sometimes worry about getting older but I have already outlived my father by almost 13 years and I hope to carry on for a good while yet. As someone once said, "Do not regret growing older.  It`s a privilege denied to so many."  

No comments: