Father & Son

George Johnston

 Father & Son

John is a large man who makes himself small by being quiet. There is nothing wrong about being quiet. Introversion and extroversion are equally valuable. I have no doubt there are plenty of times when he can make some noise. But those who make a lot of noise want attention and he is not an attention seeker. He told me that he likes to play dum so that his mouth does not get him in trouble. When I ask him when his mouth last got him in trouble he said that it was years ago. So I wonder if playing dum is no longer necessary. He is forty six years old and has in his own words matured. I would like to find out what that looks like as I still wait to be mature.

He has just come from cleaning a driveway and looks hot. It is a hot day and the work would be hard on his bad back. He has the ambition to get his forklift licence. This would open up new opportunities. Maybe it would not hurt his back as much any more.
Born in Canada he lives in Brisbane. I don't see any strong emotion come across his face when we talk except for when he talks about his Father. Then his eyes well up a little for his father has passed just a few months ago.

His relationship with his father was not good for most of his life. They in his words 'did not get on.' His father was a house painter who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and take up the same trade. Walking in another persons footsteps doesn't often work out too well. Most people need to find their own path. It's seldom an easy process.

For John just walking through this world was a difficult and painful process. He was born with club feet, his ankles were turned in and his hips awkwardly dislocated. It would take some fifteen operations to improve his gait. Unfortunately he did learn some less than helpful things from his father. One of them was gambling. He once lost ten thousand dollars in one night.

Kicked out of home over a disagreement it is not surprising that eventually drugs became a way to deal with life. Any drug induced high would be followed by lows and both anger and frustration. It was this anger that led to an impulsive assault that landed him in jail for a few months.

All of this is now behind him. He is happy in his marriage and has found some good people to have around him. He still struggles with his health but he has had the opportunity to connect with his Dad before he died.

His father was a workaholic but would gamble his money away. People often give as gifts the things that they value and for his Dad that was money. What John really wanted from his father was his time. When his fathers life was fading that's what John gave him. His time. Holding his hand as he passed.

He does not speak with bitterness about his Father. I can see that in the end he really cared about the man. I can see that he has a quiet assurance that he has done the right thing by his father. There is a lot of pain there but there is also life. I guess the transformation of pain could be the thing that brings maturity. I should revisit my first sentence. It's not that he makes himself small by being quiet. It's more that for him doing the right thing is more effective when you don't need an audience. Just quietly do the right thing to best of your ability. That's not a dum play. It just might be quiet smart.

08 February, 2023

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