Around about the time I was approaching my 30th birthday Randy Stonehill (a contemporary of Larry Norman…if neither name means anything, just tell yourself how much younger than me you are!) had a song out called “Turning Thirty”. It was a wonderfully introspective look at the experience of a landmark birthday.
Last week I too celebrated a landmark birthday. I’ve just taken a solo trip (using my brand new Senior Railcard) down to the far south of England to visit my son and my 9 month old grandson so I could be at his dedication service. This morning’s goodbyes were a bit different because in just 3 days’ time we’ll be together again, along with all the other children, as we have a rare all-together time in a big house in North Wales.
So here I am travelling home on a seven hour train journey, with my own opportunity for some healthy introspection.
My thoughts almost immediately turn to my father. I’ve been thinking about him quite a bit just lately. He was a very private person…there are whole chunks of his life I will never know about, as he died 2001. He always kept a very tight grip on his emotions…I only ever remember him crying twice in his life: once in frustration over a job and once when he silently wept with me when I was devastated by a failed relationship.
I find myself wondering how he felt as he turned 60 and did his own spell of looking backwards over life lived and forward to the changes (good and bad) that ageing brings. I wonder how he felt as he watched me making my own way in life and as he spent time with my children…two sons by the time he was 60, and three girls yet to come (the youngest born after his death).
Most of all, I regret that despite all my encouragement he never felt able to open up to me. I wonder if he ever really understood my faith and the way I chose to live my life. I’m pretty certain he knew I loved him as much as he loved me, and I hope he knew how much I admired and respected him, especially as I got older too. On the other hand I have no regrets about some of the wonderful memories I have of times spent together; many of my own interests were planted by him on walks together.
I am a much more open book than he was able to be, and I have worked hard to both understand and shamelessly show my emotions. I must remember to appropriately let my kids know how I feel about our changing relationships and give them a window on this ageing process that creeps up on us all.