When I was a little boy my Dad was larger than life. When I became a man with my own family and career my Dad was smaller somehow – sadly I was so busy he became smaller than my life. He passed away over ten years ago and now I just wish he was in my life again.
The Bible tells us; “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12) This is one of the Ten commandments. Paul tells us that this is the first commandment with a promise; “which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.'” (Ephesians 6:2)
I have a friend who is getting to know her parents through remembering with the help of old photographs. In a way this post is a page taken right ‘out of her notebook’. This is my Dad when he was a young man in Denmark. He was in the King’s Guard – a royal grenadier. He guarded the King’s Palace in Copenhagen, marching with a bear skin hat and a light blue uniform. This was before I was ever in the ‘picture’ so to speak. I look at my Dad as a young man and wonder what he thought about life, what his hopes and dreams were? I try to connect and feel a longing to get to know him as a person. This was something I was never able to really do when he was alive. Not because he wasn’t willing but rather because I thought I had all the time in the world.
This next picture is my dad when I was a young boy of about six. He was working the garden. Dad was a family man working really hard as a labourer and part time farmer. In Denmark he ‘enjoyed’ a life of privilege and position. His family was wealthy and had a lot of land, barns, buildings and assets. In Canada, Mom and Dad gave up a lot so that their children could grow up in a place that offered more opportunity than bygone family history. It worked. Because my parents were willing to break with tradition, take a risk and move to a new place, their children were all successful. When I look at this picture of Dad, I see a very large powerful man who is determined to make a go of life no matter how hard it is.
It’s really hard to connect to Dad as a person in this picture. Maybe because I was a child when it was taken. When I remember this time my emotions as a child mitigate any cognitive attempt to ‘see’ my Dad as a man in the same way that I am a man. Hard to connect through childhood memories. It seems easier to connect with my Dad as a person through the first picture of him as a young man because I have no childhood memories of him at this stage of his life. And so I can ‘cognitively’ put myself in a space where I can meet him as an equal. Does that make sense?
There were a lot of reasons why Mom and Dad came to Canada. One was a terrible tragedy that happened to my oldest brother who died when he was just four years old. But for now, I just want to honor the courage of my Dad and my parents for making a new life in a different country.