My paternal grandfather was, contrary to his current self, an authoritarian in his younger days. Like many conservative men of his generation his word was final within family boundaries, and it was his guidance that steered the family through the shoals of early 60s life. They were comfortable but not affluent. They were working to pay off their home. They had five healthy children. A typical post-War scene mirrored throughout the nation.

My father though, my father was not cut from the same cloth. Where his older brother was very much typical of Baby Boomer men, concerned with beer, rugby and work, Howard seems to have been ‘odd’ from a young age. Unsurprisingly he was gawky and awkward (as am I), and I’m told his intellect separated him from his peers. Fitness was not a concern to Howard, and in sport-obsessed New Zealand, where one was measured by their ability with the ball, he was at odds with the common man.

I’ve never been able to glean the nature of the relationship between these two. And while I’m of the impression that the years since Howard’s death have softened my grandfather, I can see that he still wonders how things might have worked differently, had he been able to save his son from the fate overtaking him. But this is the mystery of life, isn’t it? If I have settled on one thing in these many pages, it is that while we each make choices from within the resources we are given, there are unknowable weights bearing us forward, history an unseen burden upon our shoulders.

This was the way with the two of them. Different from those around him, my father sought out like minds and drifted into the counter-culture while my grandfather sought to fetch him back to what he himself knew best, the normality of the nuclear family. These two forces, one seeking the end of conformity, the other seeking certainty and reliability, sheered, the resultant friction burning both men, killing one, almost destroying the life of the other.

But what is a revolution without fatalities, no?

I can sit now and see the photos, my father a boy, a teen, a young man, and see with the years of hindsight since I was that same boy what it must have been for my grandfather. For a man to see his child so distant, so at odds with everyday life must have been heart-rending. But, this generation of men were not permitted to express angst or anguish, so the loss must have merely sat, an actual darkness, one I was to find he and his family still sharing quietly between themselves, some 20 years after my fathers’ death.

F,FLP

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