For some reason I have never felt the desire to attend a dawn service or Anzac day march. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sacrifices made by service men and women over the years - it’s just that (for whatever reason) the idea of formally acknowledging it is not something that has been instilled in me throughout my life. I don’t know why? Today I found myself thinking about my father and trying to remember stories that he might have told me about World War II and his days as a naval seaman. I can remember Nan telling me that he initially tried to join the navy when he was 16. He apparently tried to falsify his age but when Nan and Pop refused to sign the application he was forced to wait until he was 17. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for a 17 year old going off to fight in a war. However this is something he never spoke about. I remember flicking through the piles of b&w photos Mum kept in a big drawer in the sideboard and saw photos of him and his navy buddies at various locations around the world – the Eiffel Tower, London and Egypt. There were also the really gruesome ones of Hiroshima and Nagasaki taken days after the atom bomb was dropped on Japan. Piles of rubble and leafless trees. There were no people in these photos. I wonder why I never asked him where the people were?
Today, 25 years after his death I am wondering why my father never told us anything much about the war. I wonder how he felt as a 17 year old leaving his family; I wonder whether he got homesick; I wonder if he felt scared; I wonder what he thought when he heard bombs for the first time; I wonder if he ever thought he was going to die? These are questions that I wished I could have asked him. It has also go me thinking about how little I really knew about him. It does seem rather odd that it has taken me 25 years to come to this realisation.
Perhaps the experiences he had and the atrocities he witnessed played a big part in shaping him into the man he became? When my children ask me what sort of man he was – I don’t know what to say. He was an astute businessman; a good provider; stoic and resourceful. However as to what made him laugh or what made him cry or what were the best experiences and memories of his life – I honestly don’t know.
So today when I think about Anzac day – I think about how war robbed my father (and other men like him) of not only his youth but his emotions and feelings. I also wish I could have taken the time to have asked more questions because maybe then I might have got to know the “man” and not just the “father”. It also makes me appreciate how important it is to truly connect with those around me and not be left wondering "who" they actually are.
Good News of the Day: Another day off tomorrow - hopefully the sun will come out so I can brushcut the remaining paddock.