Raymond Carver – the American short story writer and poet published a book in 1985 called “Fires”. It is a great collection of essays and poems. Included in the book is a wonderful and moving essay called, “My Father’s Life” and a poem entitled, “Photograph Of My Father In His Twenty Second Year.” He says, “The poem was a way of trying to connect with him” long after he had died.
Trying to connect with your father. For me there have been many connections with my own father. Many of them are connections made after his death. Sigmund Freud called the death of his father, “The most poignant loss of his life.” Sean Connery called it, “A shattering blow.” For me, it was not unexpected and I had been mentally preparing for it for some years, as I knew the day would eventually come. Neil Chethik, in his book, “Fatherloss. How Sons Of All Ages Come To Terms With The Deaths Of Their Dads”, says, “With the death of his Father, each man seems to experience a significant reordering of his inner landscape.” The last ten years have been a reordering of my inner landscape since my father’s passing. Reflecting. Processing. His memory still moves me. His influence still shapes me.
The other experience which has precipitated reflection has been that of becoming a dad. Raymond Carver said of his own life, ”The biggest single influence on my writing, directly and indirectly, has been my two children. They were born before I was twenty and from beginning to end – some nineteen years in all – there wasn’t any area of my life where their heavy and often baleful influence didn’t reach.” There is no question about it. Children change your life and in ways you may not or could not have imagined. And not always as negatively as Carver experienced. But there were other pressures in his life at that time, specifically, not much money, cramped living space, both partners trying to work part-time and him trying to make it as a writer.
Fatherloss and Parenthood - defining experiences. How much would dad have enjoyed my children? From father to father what would he have said to me?
Here is my own piece about my Dad. The image was prominent in my mind after he died and is still one of my favourites.
From A Photograph of My Father As Young Man.
When they said,
Perhaps months or
A few weeks at the most,
I saw him again, as a young man
With a broad smile.
In love with life
And stepping out with friends
On O’Connell Street,
Coming from Lansdowne Road.
His open raincoat behaving with
In the January wind.