There is this feeling. That I get when I put clothes on in the morning and find myself wearing my mom´s cool cardigan that she let me inherit, the nice skater shoes that were too small for my sister, and jeans my soul sister girlfriend used to own… It makes me feel closer to them all in some peculiar way.
This is a painting of my “farfar”, father´s father. Whose house I grew up in, so I could actually climb the stairs up to his flat before I could walk! He was my daycare; when all the other adults in the house went to work, him and I hung out playing pirate ship underneath his frontroom table, playing Ludo with 12 dice (and I always won), picking plums and apples in the garden, mowing the lawn and weeding, taking naps on the sofa together, going out in his car to pick up grandma from her job in the telephone central…
He made me a doll´s house once, and stilts, and a wooden gun that could shoot rubber bands for real!
He was my superhero. With a capital S.
I also have an item of clothing after him, a dark blue and white knitted cardican that he wore a lot.
I have clothes after my dad as well, who left us in 2010. His red hand knitted woollen jumper that my mom made him, and the last pair of Ecco shoes that he bought for himself. I wear them for a month or two every autumn/spring.
Some weeks ago I was visiting my mother for Summer holiday, and I was in my car driving alone, whilst wearing a pair of expensive sneakers she´d just given me as it hurt her feet to wear them. Suddenly I had the urge to write these words on a scrap of paper:
My parents´ shoes are only
one small size too large for me
they fit me rather comfortably
both physically and metaphorically
I´d rather that their footsteps be
a size I can´t fill easily
an example to follow gratefully
to grow into step by step
With that poster I aim to move into saying that by no means were my parents perfect in my childhood. They were human, and they did the best they could. They have openly told me a bunch of times how they didn´t quite understand how to deal with me when I was little. I was just different to the other kids. I didn´t play in the sandbox, I watched as the others played… stuff like that.
My mother taught me to read age 4 and a half.
I read a lot ever since, and wrote short stories from age 5. (About how Santa cancelled xmas, for example, because the humans were too materialistic about it, all they wanted was new things).
They got me a piano. Which I played with a teacher for 6 years. So those were two very good things I am grateful for.
Although in some ways they were too strict, too controlling and didn´t see my sensitivity or intentions… they always meant well. I don´t think there are many of us who don´t have issues we need to digest and forgive about our upbringing.
It´s a natural thing between parents and children, where one party has all the power and the other party is forced to obey… to say it in black and white, of course there are always many shades of gray in everything.
I told my dad on his deathbed. I thanked him for always trying his best for me.
I recognize his good intentions. He did really well in some ways, and less well in others. A man of his time and of his own life conditions. For example, he saw his own dad for the first time when he was 3 years old!
As his dad had been out to sea for that long. They did, back then, where I come from. Sailed to China, and Cuba, gone for years at a time… my mother´s dad was a sailor as well. Both were chefs on board their ships.
My parents had a traffic school that they ran together, and it was very successful. All the local 17-18-yearolds got their driver´s licences through them, and they always came and told me how wonderful my parents were. Caring and funny and helpful, both my dad in his car and my mom in their office. My dad touched a lot of people´s hearts whilst teaching them how to drive, to believe in their own abilities, to forgive themselves for making mistakes, to be relaxed yet alert at the same time…stuff you need to learn to master driving.
In his spare time when I was little, he started the first soccer team for girls in my hometown, and I played soccer there from age 8-16.
I´m very proud of them both.
And could tell you a lot more they did and do, that makes me love them so much.
I could also give a lot of examples of times I was hurt by their words or actions.
As probably all of us can, about our parents.
I wonder how my kids will talk about their upbringing when they become grownups.
All I can do is to try my best for them. And hope that the wounds I cause, will be healable with the help of them knowing that I love them with all my heart.
Broken (wo-)men can be repaired. The glass is refillable. We develope and grow and change all the way thoughout our lifetimes.
The Japanese have this really nice concept in their thinking, look:
And with that, I finish this post. And wish you progress, in whatever area it is you are choosing to grow at the moment.
May the force be with you. 🙂