INTRODUCTION: IN CONTROL AND BARING MY SOUL
Sometimes finding yourself – and coming home-takes you on a circuitous route. For me, writing about past and today, has given me both and I feel right where I should be.
I travel by well known route to my deceased Father’s house. It is hot outside, a scorching Summer day. ‘Today marks 56 days since rain was recorded in Perth, the longest break since 1994. With no let-up in sight, the dry spell is set to enter…’ I turn the radio off once I stopp my car in front of the average red-bricked roof house in the average Perth suburb.
The sizzling over 40C temperatures force me to run for a shade. I quickly open the entry door and sigh with a relief feeling dark coolness of the well known interior. I open the heavy curtains and green, blue and earth tones of wood, cotton and stone pieces of furniture around me makes me feel at home again. I half expect the burly figure of my Father with bigger than life personality appears in a doorway…No, just a sheer white draping, coir rugs and cracked and rusted wood furniture surround me. I deep breathly and try to have a last good look around. It was never my home. I just came for a visit in the past 15 years, I have known my Father…
I was 35 years old, married with two little children when I came to live to Perth on an invitation from my Father I have never known. He greeted us with his characteristic big smile and a stream of stories from his life, which never seemed to dry out. He quickly whisked us to his car and the first few weeks we spent in his house. Without him. He was 57 year old successful small businessman with a busy lifestyle….and his own family to look after.
I decide to leave my memories behind and enter his kitchen in misty ocean huse and neutral grey tones. I look at the kitchen bench and there it is what I come to look for… I grab the big box full of old letters and quickly leave the house. Soon it will be transformed…my Father is dead, but life goes on. The only thing which will remind me of my Father will be memories and this old box.
Later on I stopped the car near the ocean and open one of the yellowish letters. It is dated 1971. I was in my year one class and huge irregular letters clearly reflect my age but not the content of the letter. I start to read and suddenly the memories come back: of my Mother sitting next to me smoking heavily and holding her unfinished glass of Whiskey while dictating me the words I could not understand….
‘ My Dear Father, we still wait for the money you promised to send regularly for my schooling and keep…my Mother has not have enough income to look after me properly…
I need new shoes, my Mother needs new dress, I need…my Mother needs…’
I sigh with a discust and open another letter and another dating 1973, 198o, 1982… the writing changes with the age but the content does not.
Suddenly I find something hard on the bottom of the box, the CD from my stepbrother, which he gave me after the funeral. I pick up the CD and read the title: ‘ Our Father’s life story’. Suddenly my heart feels heavy and I need fresh air. Leaving my car behind I wander to empty beach shimmering in the heat and look on the the water. I loved the way my Father could read the water: the broken surface, the lifting sand, the swirling currents, the drifting food and trailing seaveed. He could look through those breakers and see stories, make stories about different people living near the sea somewhere far away…I always wondered how much truth is in his stories. Somehow I start to understand that my Father with his
blood-curdling stories, loud laugh, travelling misadventures, second-hand tricks, his impatience and rush to be somewhere else, had, in a sense, invented himself. We never had time to really know each other in the past 15 years and we got really close only on his deathbed, however, my Father got through to me and taught me something about resourcefulness and never surrendering the idea of who you are, the way you see yourself.
I always thought that freedom was all about breaking away. As my Grandmother told me when I was leaving my country to re-connect with my Father: ‘ YOU CAN NEVER GET AWAY, BEATA, YOU ONLY FIND YOURSELF SOMEWHERE ELSE.’
Suddenly I see a group of people on the beach in front of me circling a shiny object and an artist working on it. I come close and realize with a surprise that Perth artist is working on ice sculpture. ‘ALL THINGS SAID AND PROMISED’ is written in sand underneath. He barely manages to finish it when it starts to quickly melt away on a 40C summer day in front of our eyes. The sculpture depicts a couple sitting holding hands. It was all ice except for the two hands clasped, which are made of resin and are all that is left when the ice melts away. There is a sudden gasps of surprise among the viewers when the clasped hands fell on the wet sand. The artist Steven Morgana just smiles while saying: ” It took me five hours to make it and look it is gone, just like our human form disappears …”
I left the group behind thinking about the clasped hands on the sand. The CD on my palm is just that, the clasped hands I still held with my deceased Father. It is time to read it and transcript it for you, my readers, to re-discover my Father and through him, me.
THIS WRITING ABOUT MY PAST SO FAR HAS BEEN ABOUT LEARNING TO PUT MY FOOT DOWN AND JUST DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. IT’S ABOUT REALISING I NEED TO BE IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE IF I WANT TO BE TRULY HAPPY.
Next week I start with my Father’s Life story. Drifting off into my dreamland will be allowed. I let my imagination and creativity take fligth. But I promise to express my Father’s observations and feelings openly and honestly and hopefully, you my readers will sit up and take notice. See you next week.