Not totally photo related, not just a journal. A bit of both.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's now ten years since my dad passed away

Reflections on the way up

Today is the tenth anniversary of my father's death.  He was 76yrs and a handful of months old when he died on June 15, 2000. My brother Murray was born on Father's Day, and my dad died in the last hour of Murray's birthday a short 31 years later.

Over this past weekend, Murray was going through boxes of stuff and came across several interesting tidbits about my dad's life we didn't know about. Old papers, letters and even a newspaper from the day of the Queen's Coronation in 1953. We both never knew till now that he had applied to be in the Australian Army in the early 1950s. He had also applied to be the assistant headmaster of a school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. If either of those had happened, the alternate timeline me probably wouldn't be writing this now. Or would in Spanish or with a shrimp on the barbie. Add being editor of the school newspaper of St Andrews College in Scotland, and employed by the City of Toronto public works, an oil company in London england, an insurance company... You think of people in the 20th century as keeping the same job for decades, but when he was in his 20s n 30s he certainly didn't.

Dad never liked talking about his life. He wasn't shy really, maybe he just didn't think we would be interested. He didn't share too much voluntarily about his life before I was born.  Morgan, my ex-, asked him lots of questions before he died mainly because she knew I wouldn't. And he did talk. But not enough, and not with enough time left. Murray and I regret that now. Not much you can do, but still.

He was in the British Army, Royal Signals, as a 2nd LT towards the end of WWII and was posted to Burma. Those stories I remember. The Far East in a more romantic Indiana Jones era light. Not the monk killing Myanmar of today.

He was married before. He was a book editor for Oxford University Press in Toronto. Even did a bit of photography with exotic cameras like Minox's. A camera of his I still have. But when he moved here to Canada from England in the mid 1950s, his mother disowned him. His father was a school headmaster and served in WWI.  I don't think he ever saw them again after coming to Canada. I have an uncle that I am named after that I have never met and have never seen a photo of. He might very well still be alive. It's tough searching for him when I come up in Google results though. :)

I think about him a fair bit. When I shoot photos, I wonder what he would have thought of my efforts. He was always critical but very helpful with my writing. Maybe he would be the same with the images.

Before posting this, I looked for and I couldn't  find a single scanned image of him. A handful in an album buried in a storage unit somewhere, but nothing to illustrate this post with. Even when he was alive neither he or my mom liked having their pictures taken. The title of the image I selected was come upon without thought of adding it here, but seems appropriate somehow. Late afternoon sunlight reflected from the stairwell windows of one 15 story apartment building onto the blank shadowed wall of an adjacent building. Shot May 2009, in London, ON.

It is strange to think that I am now, at 43, the exact age my dad was was when I was born.

Miss ya dad.

Mike

5 comments:

Mojo said...

I know what you mean Mike. Hard to know how to say it, but I know what you mean. My dad passed 3 July 2000, at age 67. I was with him at the end, that's something I'll always be grateful for. But there should've been more.

I never found his old Box Brownie.

Carmi said...

I think he would have been enormously proud of what you've managed to build. You have a voice, a narrative, a style that collectively set you apart.

In the year since I lost my dad, I've wondered about what he'd think of the things I've done since then. And then I look more closely at myself, and I realize he's more deeply embedded in who I've become than I ever thought possible. Sometimes, as I'm shooting, writing or speaking, I'll realize I'm emulating him, subconsciously, because that's what he taught me.

Your dad taught you well, Mike.

Mike Wood said...

Thanks Carmi. Hearing that means a lot. :)

Karen S. said...

I'm going to have come back and finish your beautiful tribute. I lost my dad on Dec. 5th 2000 and it's just too hard to read all the way through at this time.......a very fitting piece for family, 100%
I believe it's so much harder to have loved ones leave us during holiday times....it just takes so much magic away.

Mike Wood said...

It does take it away, Karen. My mother died on Christmas morning in 1998. I am not really religious, but Christmas isn't something I care to celebrate anymore. I just take the time to reflect and remember. Maybe meditate. Being alone over the holidays, at least I have that option. I don't think I would like a big family get together.