My Father >
My Father was the archetypal head of the family, but my Mother ran it, and that was the deal that suited them both. Everyday he journeyed into the city for work and was home in time for dinner. It was a regular and solid pattern of life that brought safety and security to our suburban life. When we were children, my sisters and I would be taken to church and encouraged to participate in the various fellowship groups. After church, my Father developed a ritual while waiting for Sunday lunch. He would lift the lid of our all-in-one veneer sound system and select some vinyl to play. It usually began with the Broadway version of Man of La Mancha at full blast, closely followed by Fiddler on the Roof and a bit of Cleo Laine to soften the mood. This was quite odd because I can’t remember him playing music during the week? It seemed like his deep, personal reflection on life at church would give way to the imaginary world of music and theatre.
Performance was my father's passion. He was good at it. When he was rehearsing a play for one of the many theatre productions he was associated with, I would often watch him through a crack in the door as he appeared facing a wall, talking to himself, gesturing to the air and pulling strange but expressive faces while trying to remember his lines. This was the flip side of his personality where being a Father dissolved into a creative force, beyond the domestic machinations of family obligation. Drove my Mother nuts. As far as she was concerned he performed all the time, at church and in social situations. Always charming, he engaged with who ever he spoke with, which sometimes contrasted with periods of silence and deep introspection at home. It might have been depression or frustration, but no matter how he was feeling inside, he came alive in the company of strangers, colleagues and friends. Everyone loved his genial demeanour and clownish banter. His default position was ‘not to burden’ you with any of his own personal anxieties or demands but to lend a helpful ear - to be the voice of comfort and encouragement.
In life, I believe he was a good actor and a director of great skill. It seemed to be a natural space for him and a perfect release from the reality of everyday life. I had the privilege to briefly share this world with my Father by performing in some of his productions. His persona amongst his friends and fellow thespians was completely different to his everyday home and work life. Not better or worse, just different. It defined the way he thought. To witness how his brain worked while being creative had a profound effect on the way I perceived the world. It helped me break down the barrier of mystery that sometimes builds between fathers and sons. The special bond we forged, opened a door of perception that defined the way I pursued my own artistic life and for that I am eternally grateful.
When I look at my Father, I can see myself. There is a reflection. Not identical, but strangely altered by a generation. There are some obvious physical similarities that can be explained by genetics and being of his flesh and blood but there is a more curious dynamic - that which is born out of something metaphysical. It is what connected us when we look into each other’s eyes. It is where all our personal history, knowledge and faith gently collapsed, until all we had left was belief, understanding and endless love. I miss him greatly. R.I.P.