Friday, 9 February 2018

Won't You Come Home, Bill Barrie?



My father, William Barrie. He was eighteen years old in this photo, taken in 1955 just when he'd joined the army. I only found this out the other week, worked out the dates and age on my calculator. He was a paratrooper which I kind of knew but only lately it's dawned on me that if he was a paratrooper in the army then - he must have been in the war? So I assume that would have been shit, being in a war. He was in the Red Berets .. whatever they are. I tried to find my cousins in Scotland and even though I have a PhD in detectivism I gave up looking. Their last names were Smith so whatever. At least I walked through the streets my dad would have walked through. It's like when Buzz finds out that Zurg is his father and they go off to bond with each other except my name isn't Buzz and my dad is dead.

I keep zooming in on his face in this photo and it absolutely makes me feel a feeling that doesn't have an adjective for. I can and will never be able to explain the feeling I get when I look at photos of my father, Bill Barrie. Maybe if I look hard enough I'll finally find out what he thought about life. I know he was a literal genius, worked at IBM in the late 70's early 80's.

He died when I was 12, he was forty-six years old. My stepfather of eleven years died when I was sixteen, he was forty-seven years old. Trauma trauma recovery motherhood marriage IVF pregnancy, my husband gets cancer in 2008. Doctor told us the chances were very slim, his tumours were aggressive and the chemo almost killed him but didn't. My second stepfather of over twenty years died when I was 40, he was seventy years old. My brother killed himself when I was 41, he was thirty-three years old. My brain split and I couldn't function, marriage break down, pain, oh my sons, blah blah blah.

Still here but no wonder I'm limping. And tired - soul tired. When I tell people I can't do something with them because I don't feel well they assume I mean physically. I never mean physically. my body is strong as an ox.

Anyway getting back to Bill: how do I have his posture when I hardly knew him? I know he brewed his own beer. He got on really well with my grandfather. He had the reddest reddest hair, he played tennis, he was completely haunted by black mood swings and he drank himself to death.

I just got so many questions when I zoom right in on his face - he looks proud to join the army. Did it fuck you up, Bill? Did you miss Scotland when you moved to Australia? Did you ever think of me and who I might grow up to be - I doubt it. Absolutely no shade to him at all anymore. I'm proud that he served in the armed forces, I'm also 100% sure it would have fucked him up. Poor guy. In a few years I'll be older than he was when he died which makes me feel a little .... victorious? Women are strong. (So strong.)

And yet there's a dusty room for him locked up in my heart, a room I never go in. I refuse to feel a fatherless ache, I do not like green eggs and ham and I will never open that door no fucking way. I've packaged that particular open wound up quite nicely thank you very much. Yeah I yearn but my theory is whatever gets taken away from us in life, the Universe replaces it with something to the equivalent or usually even better. It's some kind of karmic science or some shit.

PS Bill don't call me daughter. Not fair to .. the picture kept will remind me.



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