Letter to my father

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Rea Marshall Somervell
17 April 1920 – 21 February 2007

It’s been over 7 years now since my dad passed away. This is a picture of him in his younger days. It was recently discovered by a family member in Australia (thanks Mike for posting it). The place is ‘White Rock’, a favourite swimming hole for our family near the back of our farm.

I still think of my dad – often. We never had a very close relationship, which saddens me because there is so much I would have like to know about him. I think it was the hurt he suffered in losing an earlier son. Michael, my brother from Dad’s first marriage was tragically killed in a plane accident. He had just recently been married, and he and Dad had always been very close. A vivid memory as a young boy is seeing them sitting and talking together over a cup of tea at our farm kitchen table before Dad would go off for the afternoon milking.

I looked forward to when I could do that with Dad. But it was not to be. After Michael’s death he never fully recovered. I think it affected our relationship. Perhaps he feared not getting too close to another son he might lose. As it turned out he didn’t lose me, I lost him. I’m still here, but he’s not.

If he was still here, this is what I’d like to write to him:

Hi Dad, we recently found this photo of you sitting beside one of your favourite spots. I often wonder what you were like in your younger days – probably a lot like me. I’m sorry we never got very close. Don’t blame yourself, relationships a two-way street; I had a part of play in this as well.

There’s a lot I would still like to know about you. What were some of your dreams and aspirations in those days? If you weren’t a farmer, what would you have like to have done? You were so gifted at making and fixing things. I bet you would have made a great builder or engineer.

I know you couldn’t enlist in the war because of your eye injury. Did this bother you, when your mates were going off to fight for their country and you weren’t? I think it would have bothered me, even though I know war is a senseless thing. Yet I’m sure Grandpa was relieved. After Gallipoli he likely wanted no sons (or grandsons) having to go through that.

I’m raising my own sons now. They are now young men. I don’t find it easy. They do some hair-brained things. And they act as if they know it all and are invincible. Was I really like that? If I was, I’m sorry because it’s now causing me a bit of grief! You’d probably laugh and say, “Relax, they’ll grow up. You did.” Yeah, well I wish it would happen soon. I’m sure you’d offer some good advice though. You were a good Dad, in your own quiet way. I just wished you talked to me more. Perhaps we could go to that place at the back of our old farm and sit on that log by the river and have a good chat. I’d really like that. I’ll even bring a thermos and a cup of tea.

I miss you Dad.

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