It’s two months since my father passed away, and nearly a year to the day since he went into hospital for scheduled heart surgery. Sadly, although the operation itself appears to have been a success, the ordeal seemed to trigger a whole series of complications and underlying conditions: within 6 months he was admitted to a dementia ward, and by late last year, he was in a nursing home undergoing palliative care. Less than three months later, he passed away, the shadow of his former self.
I was able to spend several weeks back in the UK over Christmas and New Year, visiting him up to three times a day. Most of the time, he was living in his own little world, and I would simply sit with him and listen to some of his favourite music, mainly baroque and opera. But in his lucid moments there were flashbacks to the distant past, and some recollections of more recent memories. On one occasion, even though he had lost most of his capacity for speech, he did manage a sage piece of advice: “Don’t play with fire”.
More recently, I was in the UK again to scatter his ashes and help sort out his study and his workshop. Memories of impromptu DIY lessons came flooding back. There were also several quirks and surprises in his personal archive: photos of him at management conferences in the 1970s and 1980s, a scrapbook of his time in Germany in the late 1950s during National Service (including some chilling images of Belsen), and a spreadsheet showing his annual income and income tax right up to his retirement.
Although he was fortunate in being able to take early retirement in his late 50s, he spent the next 25 years volunteering, building a portfolio of interests and serving on multiple committees for the arts, small business, veteran affairs, U3A and other community projects. My mother likes to joke that he’d rather chair a committee than mow the lawn. He also continued to learn, and I found recent certificates of proficiency for speaking German, and for formatting Word documents (very handy for writing up agendas and minutes).
He was the product of a classic liberal education, not a polymath, but possessing a solid knowledge about lots of different things: the arts, politics, language and history as well as science and technology. All the things you need to solve The Times crossword.
There are probably three key things that my father taught me:
- Think for yourself
- Don’t follow the herd
- And of course, being an engineer, don’t take something apart unless you know how to put it back together again.
The latter is particularly useful when working with clients on their business reviews!
Next week: Music Streaming Comes of Age
Thank you Rory – this was a very moving post. The musical tribute was a perfect accompaniment.
Thanks, Jonathan. All part of the healing process…
A beautiful tribute.
Thank you, Diana – hope you like the music as well…
Thank you for sharing this insight into your father Rory. A lovely tribute.
Thank you, Jacinta – much appreciated.
Hi Rory Beautiful tribute to your father. I am sorry for your loss and hope all is well with you. Are you coming to the Future of Slow School evening on Thursday May 18 evening? Hope you and Margaret can make it. There’s about 10 of us I think and Angela Dadds is going to facilitate. Hope to see you soon. Cheers Carolyn PS The Purpose Project book is in design stage with Irma tomorrow!
Carolyn Tate Speaker | Author | Founder of The Slow School of Business & The Purpose Project
Hi Carolyn, thanks for your good wishes.
We hope to make it on May 18 – should be a good discussion!
Look forward to seeing the new book.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and enjoy it a lot every time we catch up. I was sorry to hear about your Dad and it’s lovely to read about him and your relationship. Looking forward to catching up at the next startup event or lunch if you have time.
Hi Greg – much appreciated. Yes, look forward to seeing you at the next meetup.