Thursday, May 10, 2007


This post is prompted by a Jenny Brockie "Insight" program Bouncing Back on TV, exploring why some people .. well .. "keep going" after some extraordinary events in their life.

Am not going to claim or present anything approaching anywhere close to some of the experiences explored in that program - my life has been relatively boring by comparison.

But one of the things that sort of stuck in my mind was "talk about it", so the rest of this post - including, and after the blockquote - is a re-work and re-write from some emails that have exchanged with someone I think of as a friend .. about something that has been "bugging" me for the past 30 or so years - possibly the past 62 or so years. I know that I should just "forget about it" and "move on".. but it just won't go away.

The desire to get closer to, desire contact with, someone with my "genes", but not a "social" or "emotional" bond - or history. I find it an interesting, complicated, complex, subject - especially in these days of "single mothers" (either by choice or incompatibility), as well as IVF - or "test tube" children. Am sure that the subject will fascinate many .. and for many generations to come.

"..Absent fathers are blamed, even though their absence is no fault of their own. If you are not the person who's been around to play the father role during the crucial years in a child's life, then you are nothing. We are animals David, not descended from Bonobos but cousins to them and our evolutionary background counts for a lot. There is more affection for a teacher who has helped you than for a father who didn't. We think it is personal but it's not..."

In my mind - intellectually - know that, but in my heart, still refuse to accept it.
Have, actually, 318 names in the "family tree". Can trace it back to Lincolnshire Circa 1580.
My son can claim a direct, unbroken, male line back to there .. and yes, have recently sent (by snail mail) all that information, as well as a video of his mother giving him suckle.
[the video is from about 1200 feet of 16mm film that I took during the period when he was 6 – 18 months old, and had a copy made to VHS.] There are scenes of his first attempts to stand, also a trip that we three took on a house-boat on the River Murray during one of its floods. His mother pointing to the various birds and animals along the way. [and I should expect an 18 month old child to remember? .. heh.]

Was present at the birth of my son. [Was holding the hand of his mother. She tried to get through the process “naturally”, but the pain became too much and they gave her an epidural. Even so, it wasn't easy for her.] Watched his birth, saw the first, miraculous, appearance of those few, wet, straggly strands of hair .. and there he was; a tiny, complete, bundle of potential - squalling for oxygen (or attention). He now knows that I know, have written and told him .. but what he now does with that knowledge, is anybodies guess.

Have been tracking his progress over the years, originally from letters and photos that he sent to my mother .. then latterly, through the internet. I know far more about him than he does me.
Have not really tried to pester him, met him for two days in 2003 when he returned to Australia from England, where he'd been since roughly1987.
After that we corresponded, sporadically, until the Tsunami of December 26 2004; when, not knowing where he was, became frantic for knowledge of his whereabouts and wrote to every contact that I could find on the internet who might have some knowledge. He got wind of it .. and, well, became upset with me; almost accused me of “stalking”. Thought it “creepy” that I should know what I knew of his friends and past employment. Now he refuses to reply to any tentative contact that I make.
It's always a long and complicated story, and am not doing it justice.

One of the things that annoys me, perhaps, is that he is so like ME. His “life pattern” is so like mine. Something that - by staying silent (and absent) for so long, had hoped - for him - to avoid. To NOT give him that image to follow.
The impression that am getting from some of the videos that he is posting on the internet recently give me a hint that he is unsure of his sexuality. [Oh, the stories I could tell him about my life – at age 32 .]
But now that he IS him .. or me, the urge to get hold of him, take him by the scruff of the neck, give him a good shake, give him a solid ground to stand on, let him know that he IS a real person .. is very strong.

... buut, I must remain silent, let him find his own way. Not easy ...


Davo said...

and fer the females .. some grandmeres go back t' Scotland circa 1765.

Bit difficult, you lot .. keep changing names .. heh.

Peter said...

Life works out in some funny (odd) ways Davo, one can only hope for sense to prevail sometime.

Davo said...

Thankyou Peter ..errm, "commonsense" seems to be an oxymoron .. these days. Ah well ..

Davo said...

This is, of course, a very long story. What "impressions" were given to a 6-7 month old, carted in a cot in the back of a purple Bedford van with fat wheels .. from venue to venue ..??

Yves said...

The absurd thing, Davo, is that in a way, you remind me of my own father, even though you are slightly younger than me! Like your son, I was taken away from Australia, but unlike him, I wanted to make contact with my real father when I discovered him. But there was nothing there, no connection.

I don't know if he is still alive, though I could contact him and find out. But yesterday I felt nostalgic , not for the absent father who meant nothing to me, but the house where I lived in Bassendean, 60 years ago. And I researched it from Google, and worked out its address (101 Old Perth Road, WA6054) and wrote it in my address book. As if the house were my parent, for I am connected to it with happy memories and was taken from it against my will.

Newborn ducks and geese will follow the first thing that moves and think it is their mother.

We all have the right instincts, Davo, but things happen in life and they get displaced. I don't have answers.

GreenSmile said...

I probably shouldn't say more than that I recognize that odd ache you seem to be describing: the feeling that "flesh of my flesh" ought to enjoy or even be the source of a quite special comradery, a knowing relationship that might need few words because it is the one in which example and presence are also a language.

But I don't know all your history [and I am not asking for it here].

I am blessed several times over by children with whom I have amicable though not intense relationships. I do not think it merely a convention or a romantic notion that kinship adds to the stakes and the energy of whatever passes for a relationship between two people.

Our lives would make so little sense if we merely procreated and died like so many mayflies and rabbits. Our curse is that we have an organ that senses whether or not things "make sense"...a curse if ever god put curses on men. The gap between a rabbit-like existence and one that, in a multi-generational, or even teleologcial way, makes sense, that gap plagues the mind.

And for all the warmth and freedom from dysfunction I proclaim about my relationship with my sons and daughter, I too experience that gap.

Anonymous said...

GS, this will always be "a gap".

One of the things that is beginning to fascinate me is the "timing", and Political purpose, of the gap.