When I was born, 3 weeks late and in the lift (elevator) my parents were what was termed older parents. Especially my father.
I have no memory of my father with brown hair only with shiny silver locks. And there are very few Photographs.
Most of the pictures of him are with cigarette in hand. A habit that would last many many decades. Strangely I have no recollection of how he came to be a smoker, I can recount my mother’s introduction to this habit which also lasted most of her life and was the singular contributing factor to her death.
My father would pick me up to hug him or bend to embrace me so that my face would scratch against the RSL pin firmly implanted into his suit coat lapel. (He has served in Egypt during World War 2)
He would come inside each evening and with hand in his pocket rattle the contents. Most often it was a bag of peanuts. Often sweets, candy, lollies. Dad nibbled all his life. I have always wondered if this was a result of living through the deprivation of the Great Depression.
He was tall and straight. He wore an air of confidence he did not really feel. Highly intelligent and well-educated he none the less carried within him the shadow of his family’s circumstances. For years after the war he was haunted by largely unspecified anxieties; as were so many veterans of both the European and Pacific theatres.
His academic and professional brilliance made him a challenge to live with. He was a perfectionist, which of course is a manifestation of his vulnerabilities however when the genius of his mind and his eye for detail is overlaid across all else, we soon learned to embrace his mantra a place for everything and everything in its place. He had exacting standards for himself (ah ha, is this where I get it from?) and imposed them upon the family.
When I, his 1st and only daughter -r but 5th child – (I was my mother’s 2nd child) became seriously ill at just a few months old, he faced the daunting task of somehow, in a brief rushed car trip to the hospital, preparing himself and my mother for my possible death.
Remarkably I recovered. We moved south, although I do not know exactly why, and he entered a new phase of his life. He began to figure more in mine and my memories of him begin in those years…
I recall realising his hair was silver. It was not just grey. Slightly wavy and neatly groomed, he always looked and was mostly described as distinguished.
My mother used to tell of how at the nurse’s home, boyfriend’s would arrive to collect them for an evening out. Messages were shouted up the stairs, to the relevant off duty nurse…your date is here, there is a bloke here for you etc. When my father called the message would be relayed ‘there is a gentleman here for you’.
In his professional practice he worked hard and creatively. He was successful as in innovative architect specialising in family homes. At night and on the weekend’s he laboured at the task of renovating the house we lived at, at 9 Nile Street. We lived on a corner. We crossed a small bridge over a little stream to get to the street.
For me, Life was bitter-sweet. ( Although that is perhaps best identified now decades beyond my childhood years) Further serious illness entered my life. The ripple rings of those days are still washing ashore in my daily life.
Many evenings, my parents would come to my bedside, beautifully dressed, elegant and fine. My father would linger and talk to me about various things. Upon their return he would visit me again. The light would reflect on his silver hair. These are nice memories.
At a very young age my hair began to turn the colours I recognised as Dad’s silver, mum’s white.
I coloured my hair, for years.
Several years back I was in South Korea. We travelled to the river border with North Korea. Across the water on the far shore was a fake village with signs of messages of Reunification. The village buildings only, no residents. Beyond I could see rows of hills, and beyond that I knew were thousands, indeed probably millions of men and women, in essence my brothers and sisters…all in darkness. Uninformed, unempowered and trapped in poverty they live in North Korea subject to the dictates of their leaders whims and fancies. They live in spiritual darkness and few choices.
As I stood and contemplated all this I was deeply moved. I thought about the life I led, the choices I made, the small ones and the big ones. I contemplated how I spent my life, and the resources I had available, where and how I spent my time. And I resolved to make some changes.
Strangely the first thing I decided to change was the hair colouring routine.
As time passed by I discovered I didn’t just have my father’s silver coloured hair, but I have the white strands around my face.
Amazingly it all came through nicely. Even my hairdresser is impressed. I had to modify some of y clothing but part from that it was all fine for me. Then suddenly a few years ago I decided to let my hair grow to the one length.
An over-trim bought up serious memory. Aged just 7 I had been given a serious haircut. From long locks that were wound up into a chignon for my ballet classes, to a pixie bob I was told my headaches would decrease or stop. They did not.
Now I have a long bob and the style is right for me and the natural colour is fine for me to.
It is so important to walk the path that is best for you at the speed you need to travel. You are unique. What is right for you is right for you. And thus for me. We can embrace different styles of travel, speed and even destinations. It is not the colour of our hair, the size of our feet or the clothes we wear. What really matters is working through to what is true for you, embracing what is right for you, or me, now. And adjusting the adjustments as we go along. The quality of our hearts is the most important aspect of us. This is where our best work ought to be. Evidence of our work will manifest in our behaviour and attitude toward others. The more love we can feel, and share, or simply exude standing still and doing nothing, the less you will be concerned about your hair and trendy gear. There is nothing wrong with cool fashion, coloured cut and curled locks as long as they adorn a generous heart.
♥ Thinking of you. As ever, and especially focusing upon friends and loved ones, both those I know and those I do not, along the Eastern Seaboard of North America. Be wise, be cautious and please, be safe.