Saturday, 23 January 2016

Unfinished business

First grandchild - a very proud Papa!

On this day of my birth, I pay tribute to a man who became a first time father as a result of my entry into the world. A complex personality that never failed to generate strong feelings in his family and those in his intimate circles.

My father was a troubled soul; his emotional baggage was heavy and, sadly, was lost to us too many times. He never found a worthy mentor and suffered from a lack of a strong, male role model (following the early demise of his own father). The seventh child raised in a large family (of 14) who felt smothered and overlooked. As his widowed mother sank deeper into poverty,  my father acquired “a chip on his shoulder” from being disadvantaged and impoverished.

Poverty hurts when you know you are destined for more. My father had nobility in his blood being the descendant of a knight of Queen Victoria’s realm;  a leading barrister of the day. My father tried to live up to his honourable ancestry and often failed. The odds were set against him and minus a rigorous work ethic, things fell apart.

Underprivileged, penniless and without a sound education, his thoughts were mostly of escape to  prosperous pastures. However progress never comes easy. Along with opportunity and freedom comes responsibility in tow (a wife and two children). In a Western country, though a foreigner, he felt at home. My father was a man of many mood swings – the not so sweet chariot of an early pioneer was to be his lot. He’d chop and change careers like the wind trying to find the elusive niche but nothing quite fit.  

Today, he’d be judged differently for his penchant for change and the unremitting search for a passion project. Restless and free spirited, he had the will to try everything…..and even fail….. successes were far and few.

My father was a paradox – rarely happy but at the same time a “bon viveur”. Socially, he was a raconteur and the life and soul of a party. Other times at home, he was withdrawn, short tempered, a loner and depressive.

In the last century, no one seemed interested in your mental health. Your mind was your own business and, if you didn’t mind it, you’d be locked up for your trouble! My father’s mind was in turbulence. He was suffering from the mental trauma of being different – a new arrival, olive skinned who didn’t have much on paper to be proud of.

Youth was hard on my father and life even more so. To us it appeared that fatherhood was a burden and matrimony an onerous undertaking.  The irony of arriving in a land of new possibility and yet to be strangled by duty and obligation;  anathema to his free and restless spirit.

He was a rebel with and without a cause. The butterfly of happiness never settled on his shoulder and misery seemed to grip his mind;  the cloak of anger was hard to remove.

How did these behaviours affect his family? His wife bore the brunt of the many dark nights of his soul and clutched on to religion - an escape from the bleakness. His sons were perhaps affected most of all and there was no closeness or sharing for them to learn important life lessons. A dearth of emotional intelligence in an era where that concept was relatively unknown.

As for me, the only daughter, I fared  better. My father would say that he preferred daughters to sons perhaps  not fully understanding that each one would not have been like me!

I was not a Daddy’s girl by any means and hugs and kisses were few. My father could not show positive emotions easily and reverted to type each time. However, there was a bond – almost psychic. Without speaking, I knew my father’s moods – good or bad. He said I reminded him of his mother who’s middle name he gave me.

As his health failed, my father and I had many shared moments but there was an invisble barrier that neither of us could penetrate. He had built a wall around himself and it didn’t come down enough to reveal his full vulnerability. Age and illness brought a sense of defencelessness but my father remained proud and knowing.

In his last weeks in hospital, he had little idea that his final days were near. It was difficult to see a the decline of a man’s health and independence (which he’d fought to preserve all his life). Dependence he abhorred and being treated as an invalid was against his nature.

Fifty years before, he was a man with a grand plan whose courage was often thwarted by the inner demons. He was weak……and strong; jovial…..but sad; argumentative……and misunderstood; cantankerous……and yet not unloving.
His grandchildren he adored and showered them with time, attention and gifts.  With them, he shared his heart and bits of his soul, showering them with time, attention and gifts. Having been careful with money all his life he was generous and lavish with them. He was fighter to the end and I will remember the last 48 hours of life with poignancy and tenderness.

So what did my father teach his daughter? Resilience to the slings and arrows of fate, boldness and an iron will. His insecurities I have conquered, his ambition I have inherited, his passion inherent in my character, his witty sarcasm brought smiles and his fight for survival…. is my fight too (albeit in better circumstances).

I thank my father for all that I am and for what yet I can be. I am grateful for it all – the good, the bad and the ugly!  I thank him for my life and the new world he brought me to. He was not the best shepherd and his “flock” often “got his goat”…. but who he was…. I am still.

Death leaves an eternal void. There’s a father shaped hole in my life. It is eight weeks to the day of your departure and the word “Dad” is redundant.  Until that meeting in the great beyond, Dad, there’s unfinished business that lies between you, me and eternity.






Monday, 28 December 2015

My father's daughter

Today, it's just four weeks since my dad left this earth. Time moves as fast as it does slow and I feel as if I've slipped into a crack that I don't wish to come out of.

I want to always remember who I was when my father was alive. Our identities are intricately bound with our parentage. Who are parents were / are makes us uniquely ourselves. 

So who was I? I was my father's only daughter and that was a special responsibility. It made me want to understand my father though this was a no easy task.

My father was a complex man; a man whose moods could change like the wind. He was all four seasons in a day and winter could be especially bitter and summer fleeting. 

My father was a fearsome character and the pantomime villain of my youth. He would have made a fascinating psychological case study. He was no hero in the ordinary sense and his many flaws were all too often visible but there was an invincibility about my father that impressed.

My father was never defeated by life's challenges and he was aspirational. He didn't often succeed with his labours but was ever enthusiastic to move on to something bigger and better.

My father was a man with little memory of his own father and this was a huge void in his life. There were insufficient male role models in his youth and his mother was everything to him. 

My father was a raconteur and shared with me stories of his early childhood. It was a tale of hardship following the death of his father and his widowed mother was left to raise 14 children on a paltry pension. 

My father was not a warm person and built a wall around himself. He was a loner but not lonely. He liked company but quite often pushed people away. 

My father was obsessive about current affairs. He loved to watch the news and any political programme. He knew more about conditions on the other side of the world than of events in his own house!

My father never suffered fools gladly and rarely made allowances. He was hard and fast in his judgements and I rarely remember him admitting to an error!

My father always felt he was destined for higher things so was a restless soul. No home, job, location ever satisfied. He was a man who loved to make plans.....the crazier the better!

My father loved a good laugh and sarcasm was his preferred style. Since we shared the same sense of humour we often had plenty to laugh about!

My father and I shared a psychic energy. I could often feel his feelings.....negative emotions were the strongest.

My father was misunderstood. He left this earth in an abrupt way. He clung onto life and would never prepare for death. 
The end would have been a shock but hopefully his soul has had safe passage to the other side.

My father never settled and stayed hungry. He was constantly looking for the next best thing......even when he hadn't a clue what that was.

Four weeks on from my father's death, I am a changed person. Someone is missing and will always be for me. My father's place will never be filled. There's an emptiness that reminds me that he is gone. 

Gone.....but only from this physical world. He lives on in me...and my brothers.....and that's a whole new world of discovery.

My father's daughter I will always be.....and for that I'm proud. 

Dad, whatever you're doing in easy! 



Friday, 23 October 2015



It’s official – I’m suffering from affluenza and regular bouts of temporary amnesia. I say this as I find myself in an ever increasing consumeristic mind-set. The particular strain of affluenza I have succumbed to is aspirational. I can’t afford full blown affluence yet and I sometimes forget that I have a lot of good stuff that makes for a comfortable life. But I want more….more goods, gadgets and toys to come into my life but, right at this moment, it’s not an option and cannot be for a long time… least until I achieve full solvency and rehabilitate my debt wish!

The easy methods of racking up debt is a sign of a deep, societal malady. Easy credit means we spend, spend, spend. Affluenza  is a socially transmitted disease and we wouldn’t suffer as much if we were hermits living in caves. It’s like an air-borne virus and anyone with a nose for hunting down the best bargains will sooner or later catch it. It’s only when governments apply austerity measures that we remember to slow down. Cutting back is a cruel reminder that we have over-consumed and now have to pay for it.

Economists and psychologists advise that the rise of materialism leads to greater inequality resulting in unhappiness. In addition, overwork, stress and anxiety  aggravates the condition until affluenza is like the common cold. My question is…. when has society ever been equal? I’m far above and far below some of my planet sharers in terms of income and influence.

Keeping up with the Jones’ is becoming a thing of the past. Firstly, we don’t really know who lives in our neighborhood anymore and, whatever they have, we only wonder if it was acquired by legitimate means. I don’t think we covet our neighbours’ goods since we don’t have enough time for gossiping at the garden gate. Desperate housewives are the paragons of affluenza:  idle, rich, married and dysfunctional – that’s the 21st century Mrs Jones and she’s finding that the neighbours are keeping up nicely – thank you!

Affluence provides opportunities, freedom and visible signs of economic progress though satisfaction is not part of the package. We’re still not happy bunnies as we strive for more and we rarely feel that we have enough. In truth, we probably have a lot more than we need or want but the affluenza bug weakens the will.

 Less is definitely not more if you’ve ever travelled to impoverished places where vulnerable familiies live in a shack with poor sanitation, well below the breadline, ekeing out a living on rubbish dumps. However, you’ll have noticed that their social exchanges are rich. They care about each other. They share whatever they have and that includes a smile. They may be down trodden but they are not down hearted. Their life force is strong as they battle through adversity. Though many will always be victims of circumstance they believe in God and future prosperity.

We’ve never had to so good and that’s the main cause of our collective amnesia. We just don’t remember what it’s like not to have a job, money, enough food, car, insurance, mobile phone, PC or plain-old fashioned boredom. That’s what you call lucky and I guess we live in a paradise of sorts.

Affluence provides an elite membership to the “haves” club.  Our forefathers paved the way for a brave new world of riches and the least we can do is enjoy it. Western civilization has become a little sick at heart. We want progress but when it comes it feels like millstone around our necks.  We have dual incomes/ cars, multiple cells, homes, condos, domestic help, foreign travel,  eating out, shopping, nail art, tattoos but there’s a hole inside of us. Within, we’re unfulfilled but for our dream and desires to be curbed or realised it can take a few lifetimes.

 Overthinking is also a sign of excess. We plan, prepare, prioritise, organize, evaluate, discuss (endlessly) until we hit burn-out. As we breakdown we get full-blown amnesia and stare at our credit statement in disbelief when it arrives. We drown in whirlpools of guilt as we ruminate on those”little things” that have cost us dear.

Insecurity is a constant inner driver and he /she is a workaholic! Affluence has not provided us with a good night’s sleep or the ability to enjoy one day at a time. Still, we can’t go backwards and the only thing ahead of us is the open road.

I’ll take the high road, no matter the challenges, but I’ll bless the low road so that I can still be humbled by life’s largesse. For now, I’ll protect myself against the bitter backlash of affluenza with a large dose of daily gratitude. It’ll take a ton of conscious effort (and energy) to stop the onslaught of taking-it-for-granteditis but I know I can do it – atishoo! 



And God said.....................

And God said…….

God and I have had an on/off relationship , like many of my relationships. It’s tough love. God is perfect; I am not; but he allows me to bask in the rays of love now and then. He’s all knowing and all seeing and I’m just blinded by his power. I don’t see what he sees so whenever I ask for something he knows better. “Anything you can do, I can do better,” doesn’t apply here. God doesn’t play games with mortals but he sure has a wicked sense of humour.

God is supposed to be a positive being yet he/she says “no” to my whims and fancies. On the few occasions that he says “yes” then I know that God is a woman. It’s gender thing, men love to say “no”(and spoil the party)  and women just want to say “yes” to every designer thing that comes their way.

 If God is love then he takes long vacations. I’ve felt his absence many times in my life. Feeling unloved distorts your emotional vision. In the dark moments, I crave for comfort and escape into a fantasy world where love and warmth come attached with a price tag.

I used shoes, clothes and cosmetics to get through the emotional dramas in my life whilst neglecting my spirit. New and shiny things are a distraction and they do make me happy….yes they really do. God wasn’t convinced.

 I guess I was always looking for a hero; someone who’d save me from myself. There were a few likely candidates but I was too insecure to trust them completely. Timeless wisdom says “love like you’ve never been hurt, dance as if no one’s watching and shop as if your Louboutin’s  aren’t killing you – I couldn’t…. I was a fraud.

 During trying times, God was watching over me but he must have been shaking his head in disapproval knowing that I was crashing headlong into disaster. But since he gave me free will, I thought I’d show him that he was wrong and I was right.

 As you know, God never makes a mistake but he certainly allowed me to – many of them – for a very long time – until I decided it was enough. I had to stop the less than loving things I’d heap upon myself, the biggie was allowing people to walk all over me.

 When I eventually asserted myself, I made enemies. God may be inclined to love them but I found avoidance a better path.  I had to detach myself, retreat,  in order to create an improved version of myself. God rarely says“yes” to any of my schemes; he knows their driven by my ego and he doesn’t like it much.  I guess he’s a damage limitation agent.

 How does he know what’s right for me?

 When I asked for a hero, God said : “  No, a hero is what you make of yourself with the talents you have”

When I asked for stability, God said: “ No, instability will change your misguided priorities”


When I asked for someone to love me, God said: “ No, you have to find enough love inside of you first”

When I asked for comfort, God said: “No, you’ll become a slave to it”

When I asked for fame, God said: “ No, you may forget who you really are and anyway fame’s overrated……….take it from me!”

When I asked for money, God said: “No, your mind is richer”

When I asked for more time, God said: “No, you’ll only waste it!”

When I asked for a near perfect life, God said: “Impossible!”

When I asked for a cleaner kitchen/bigger house, God said: “Bricks & mortar alone don’t keep you warm at night. Make your heart a sweet home for the weary and troubled.

When I asked for a newer car, God said: “ Travel with a light heart and you’ll always arrive at your desired destination.

When I asked for the latest fashion, God said,” No, fill your heart (not your wardrobe) with precious things”

When I asked for beauty, God said: “look in the mirror!”

When I asked for a loving partner to take care of me, God said: “I am your resource and in developing spiritual skills you’ll find him…or her.

When I asked for courage, God said: “ No, being human is courage enough, you’re just too stubborn to believe in it.”

When I asked for a problem free life, God said: “ No way! Its unnatural and you’ll never find your spirit.

When I asked for inspiration, God said: “you are one to me!”

When I asked for my dreams to come true, God said: “you are mine and I believe in you”

When I asked for unconditional love, God said: “you cannot ask for something you already know and have. Allow yourself to be the giver and receiver and go with that flow!

When I asked for the good times to last, God said: “No way honey, nothing’s built to last in your world!”

When I asked to be saved, God said: “I’ve done it so many times”.

God obviously has great faith in me but he continues to “not deliver” (to my plain, earthly eyes) on my prayers and wishes. Perhaps he’s dreaming a bigger dream and my mind just can’t grasp it all.

 Life is like baking a cake though some of the ingredients are missing. Some items are purposely removed, by yours truly, so that he/she can see what we’ll produce. We’ll mix and mould and still come up with something palatable, if we focus on doing our best.

That’s all God wants from me – my best – and I’ve been asking for the moon from an undiscovered galaxy.

 Does God answer my prayers? Not in the way I want but it’s okay I’m finding out what I’m made of – and where I need to make a few corrections. Whe God says“No”…it’s not a negative; it’s a filter for the impurities. Say it out loud and then perhaps there’ll be room for a few good things (and people) to come into your life…….and stay.