Fathers and Sons

Fathers and sons do things together.... except they don't.

Increasingly in western society, men have not known their sons. I have friends who leave before young children are up, and who return from work after they are in bed. Yet who will best teach boys to be men, but other men?

In primary school I had two male teachers in seven years. My son has had none. As he comes to the end of primary school, even most of his sports coaches are women.

We are told that we should be more involved at home, helping with housework and helping to care for children. Yet the pressure is on at work to go longer and harder. You could feel torn apart… or crushed, by the conflicting calls.

It is reported widely by the men of my generation that they are separated from their fathers. Indeed, many have never connected to begin with! There is a great loneliness, the "father-wound', resentments, the desire to connect thwarted by the inability to know how.

I too suffer distance from my father. We are typical men- we struggle to know how to share our feelings. Especially with each other. He is getting old. There is not much time.

I grieve the little time spent together when I was younger. It was compounded by his long hours as a farmer, and my allergy to grain dusts. Then I moved away to the other side of the country. Yet I find he has been more significant in my life than I would have imagined at first. Remembering and reflecting has been healing. I share some of that in this growing file. I trust it may offer some directions for you. Jan 7/6/98

 

My father...
I remember transistor radios becoming all the rage. Japanese?- No! National! was the slogan. My Dad said once- I was only ten I suppose- that they might make good radios, but you wouldn't trust them for anything else...

 It was not uncommon statement for rural Australia back then. Yet this was a liberal and enlightened family for its time, and I recall being shocked by his statement and questioning him about it. It all had to do with the war. He had been in the army fighting against the Japanese, and old wounds died hard. He used to wear a Returned Services League badge back then. He was a member of the Liberal and Country League, and gave out 'How to vote cards' for them.

As the years passed he changed. During that time Vietnam began. Unknown to me, he resigned the LCL. Then, after I had left for the city and university, he and Mum had a Japanese exchange student stay with them for some months. He took this girl, and two or three others, all over the state and into Victoria on a four day grand tour.

Later he became vocal about Aboriginal land rights, speaking out at church and in Probus. Now, in his late 70's, he is a member of a gay and lesbian support group. Not long ago when I was visiting, he cornered me in the kitchen and chewed my ear about all the things they were doing!

I was excited and perhaps proud of myself some years ago when in my theology and philosophy studies I realised I needed to try and develop some kind of 'ruling paradigm' in my life which would encourage me to grow and change rather than be set and in a rut as I grew older. It's only now I realise my Dad must have been pointing me towards that for years.


Aeroplanes and Dad!!!
One afternoon my Mum, keen on botany, was strolling along a road neighbouring our farm, looking at the native plants. Unknown to her, a dangerous prisoner had escaped from the local jail two or three hours before. Police had arrived from all over the mid-north area, and even procured a spotter plane. It was sent to check out the sighting of a suspicious person about six miles west of Gladstone. This was the reason Mum's quiet stroll was shattered by a frighteningly low flying aircraft.

Discounting Mum, the pilot banked tightly over our scrub. He spotted a figure skulking among the trees, close to the main road.

"Pilot to base. I've got him. He's in the scrub just south of the Pirie road. I'll circle to guide you in."

The 'skulker' was, in fact, my father, innocently carrying out a late afternoon inspection of his sheep, as farmers do. He too, was unaware of the earlier events of the afternoon. His curiosity was inevitably roused by the plane's persistent low circling above him.. He wondered if perhaps the pilot was lost, or even in trouble, and needing a safe place to land before dark. He began to run back to the farm house.

"Pilot to base. You blokes better hurry. He's making a run for a farm house about a quarter mile away. I'll keep on his tail."

To get to the house, Dad had to cross an old quarry, where he noticed a pick, abandoned by one of us kids. He grabbed the pick to take it back to the shed.

"Pilot to base, he's picked up some kind of weapon. I'll try and warn the house."

The "house" at that moment consisted only of myself, perhaps ten, and my two sisters. We were so greatly entertained by the plane roaring overhead almost at roof level, we didn't even notice the 'convict' driving off at high speed in our stolen utility.

"Pilot to base. He's stolen a farm vehicle. He's heading east...... We're one mile east of the Laura turn off. He's turned down the Huddlestone road, heading south now."

"Err.... Pilot to base.... The clown's driving up and down in a paddock..... What kind of idiot is this guy!"

I believe it was shortly after then that Dad had to explain to armed officialdom that this was where the crop dusters always landed..... and he thought that if the plane had needed to land.... and....

and we can imagine the confusion and frustration all round. 


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