Getting to know my father

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I took a deep breath and began typing the first letter – one and half pages. There were words I couldn’t decipher. He was on the ship, “The Triona”. He talked about the Lascars – who were they? Who were the Mc Raes he saw before he left? I penned a note to ask my Aunt. She was bound to know. At 94, she was still as sharp as a tack.

I typed up the next letter ’20 June 1948’. Three weeks in and he was still on the ship. There was a diagram of his quarters and a description of the food he’d eaten. I guess he was a typical 18 year old boy who loved to eat. He wondered if his new nephew or niece had arrived. He worried about my grandfather and if he was coping with the garden without him. He was sick of being at sea.

I finished typing the second letter and pondered. It dawned on me that I was getting to know my father as a teenager. What child ever gets to do that? He was 28 when I was born and my earliest memories of him began at three. I was looking up at him, my neck craned to watch him shave off his red fluffy beard – he would have been 31. I really got to know him in his mid to late 30’s and by the time I was a teenager with a consciousness, he was already in his 40’s. By then we were already worlds apart.

What an extraordinary opportunity I’d been given to discover my father as a boy and watch him turn into a man – into the man I knew and loved. He was the man who I had adored and followed everywhere as a kid; who did no wrong in my eyes – the teacher, the larrikin, the organiser, the drinker; the fixer, the adventurer. The man,I had stood up to as a teenager, and fiercely argued with, for my own independence. The man who had been my champion; who had been proud of everything I had ever done even though I shrugged it off. The man who could fly off the handle for the smallest of things yet hated confrontations. The man, who in later years, withdrew from me and everyone else, into his own world. Had he always been like that?

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13 thoughts on “Getting to know my father

  1. Linda Visman - wangiwriter June 8, 2015 / 8:11 pm

    What a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know the young man your father was!
    I would give a great deal to get back the suitcase of letters from my mother to her friend in England from the time we emigrated from there to Australia in early 1954. Her friend re-read them many years later, then burned them. Oh what family history was lost in that fire. How much feeling about our move, about the country, the things we did or couldn’t do. I sometimes weep for that lost mother of mine.

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    • S.C Karakaltsas June 9, 2015 / 9:31 am

      I am lucky that my father kept his letters. He thought about writing a book about his experiences but like so many he never got around to it.
      Very sad to hear about your mother. If her friend is still alive, could she perhaps give you some memories of that time? I’ve found that once you get people talking they do remember some interesting information but it does require patience.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Visman - wangiwriter June 9, 2015 / 1:46 pm

        Unfortunately, I think Mum’s friend died some years ago (Mum died 21 years ago) – they would be in their 90s now. About 15 years ago, I tried to make contact with the friend but had no success. Being in another country doesn’t help.

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  2. Reblogged this on Sarah's Attic Of Treasures ( Will Include Posts From Our Neck Of The Woods) and commented:
    Sharing here a wonderful story about a father. At this moment , I now nothing about the blog or it’s owner other than she liked the post I shared on Ally’s Kitchen. I automatically came to her sight to read something there. I try to do this for a new like. I don’t always get that chance but I do try.
    Seeing that Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, I thought it was a good time to post it. I will be checking out the blog soon. Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

  3. donnainthesouth August 13, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    I wonder if you noticed that the date on the letter was June 20 so must have been close to Father’s Day then as well but he doesn’t seem to have thought about it – typical 18 yr. old

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    • S.C Karakaltsas August 13, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      Actually Fathers Day in Australia is the first Sunday in September although back then I don’t think there was too much thought about it. Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

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      • donnainthesouth August 14, 2015 / 2:45 am

        okay, wasn’t thinking about it being on a different day there; sorry about my United States centric perspective but have enjoyed reading your chronology and hope you get things found out

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      • S.C Karakaltsas August 14, 2015 / 9:20 am

        I had no idea that Fathers Day was on a different day in the USA and it’s just one of the many learnings in my journey of writing my novel.

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      • donnainthesouth August 14, 2015 / 11:58 am

        isn’t that interesting; just like I had no idea it was different there; did I mention my dad was also in the Pacific Theater in WWII?

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