How well do you know your father? It’s a thought that entered my mind several weeks ago. It still hasn’t left yet. I suppose that it wants me to write about it.
My father grew up in a small town in 1932. His father was a civil servant and his mother came from a family of barbers. I understood that my father was pushed to become the village barber when that position became available. I understood that he reluctantly agreed. He married in 1959 and my brother (1961) and I (1960) were born subsequently.
In my memories, my father was always busy doing something. Although we lived above the barber shop, my parents did not spend much time together or with my brother and I, apart from occasional family outings and family visits. I’ve continued their behaviour.
Many evenings, my father was renovating the ever-expanding shop, while my mother was busy doing the accounts (eg, updating cash ledger, reconciliation of cash receipts to sales register). Many nights, my father made my brother and I scream with laughter by his fooling around, before my brother and I went to sleep. Our mother didn’t appreciate it very much.
I suppose my father was a successful local businessman in the eyes of the other villagers. To some extent, he was feared as he liked to “scare” some of his “lively” clients into “submission” with his scissors (“I’ll cut your ear if you don’t sit still”).
I suppose my grandfather, my father and his brother, had a kind of a dark side as they loved stirring some fear in other people – or animals. I may have inherited a part of that trait. My uncle was the worst and was deemed the black sheep of the family. He couldn’t care less.
My father had hoped that I would continue the family business. At the advice of a school counsellor, I pursued a different path (ie, economics). In 1989, I graduated as a chartered accountant, which made my parents proud. My father never expressed his regrets to me (or my brother) for not taking over the family business. I doubt he had any regrets about it.
I’m quite sure that my son does not really know me, despite my blogs. The reason is simple: we hardly talk about personal matters, even if I steer the conversation in that direction. Last Sunday, his grandmother asked him if he has a girlfriend. I had avoided talking about that subject with him. I thought, felt and believed that it’s none of my business. I used to hate that question myself.
Soon, my son will start in his first formal (trainee) job as an assistant to the CFO. I’m carefully coaching him how to prevent the pitfalls in his first job (eg, (not) listening, networking, verifying). Nevertheless, I keep on wondering how well he knows his father.
Father and Son (1975) by Gino Vannelli
Once in a life there comes a man like you
And you bear a son so much like yourself
And it’s hard to believe that he’s a grown man
But pop I understand
Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.