The angle of his head wasn’t the only sign of despair. The way his left hand was clenching and unclenching was classical of a well nourished depression. Even those slightly interested in body language would know that. However, this man seated on the park-bench was attended by his very alert beagle hound. The dog wanted to be let free to chase ducks. I decided to pat this dog and try and engage this sad person in conversation.
Lately, by much encouragement from my wife I wanted to put words in action and engage more. I usually steer well clear of raucous or excessive boisterous people but make generous exceptions for those that appear serious or sunk in gloom. They are often more interesting. A psychologist would probably agree and might well say; “there is a lot there.” You just don’t get serious without good reason!
My Father was always hovering very close to being a serious person. Readers might remember he went to bed for six solid weeks soon after our arrival in Australia in 1956/57. It was too much. “Far out,” might well have been an expression totally justified. I mean the three legged German shepherd dog chasing huge rats around the old house surrounded by cranes lifting stacks of timber. The old 1948 Chevy pick-up on three wheels. The mud and the early morning bucket pissing ritual behind the flimsy partition. And…the house, contrary of what they had told us, wasn’t even owned by our old Dutch friends. It was all too much.
To make it short. After the advice of my co-blogging friends I discovered- none too late- that my computer too had a button that would instantly change words all over my manuscript. It is called ‘word replacement’ feature. I had laboriously been changing Mum and Dad into Mother and Father, word by word, hour after hour. It was pointed out this could have been done instantly by using the 2013 Micro-soft Word ‘word replacement.’
I changed first Mum which was replaced by Mother in this replacement feature numbering 64 times. But, wait for it…! After I did the same with Dad into Father it did replace it 87 times. I am not saying that both my parents weren’t equally loving. And, I wasn’t aware that the attention in this memoire manuscript was weighed more towards my Father than to my Mother. On reflection, Father was from my point of view more deserving of getting mentioned out of sheer sympathy . He just wasn’t the pioneering migrant. Instead, a man of dreams, questions and ponderings. A lover of the stars, books and celestial things.
The brutality of the change from the safety and security of Holland to the untrammelled lust for materialism with own house. The world of the Sun-Beam appliances, the yawning car-sales yards and everything on deposits and ‘easy-terms’ wasn’t for him. The New Country just did not beckon the same for Father as it did for Mother.
Mother on the other hand was the achiever and doer. Never to stop and reflect too much. She would be about making the mountains of Tip-Top sandwiches for her six children. Shopping, knitting, crocheting, sewing and making things. She was the accountant. The looker after our beds, warmth, food and comfort. Equally loveable. She would make sure that all obstacles could and would be overcome. Not a person to mope about. On the other hand, my Father, who liked growing flowers and try out gardening was seen by mum more as a way of saving money, not having to buy flowers or vegetables. The practical over beauty. The romantic and the thinker over the pragmatic, the maker and doer.
The man and his dog turned out to be alright. He had struggled for years not knowing he could have used ‘word -replacements’ all along.