I never have anyone to call on fathers day. Instead I sit quietly and reflect on the beautiful father I had for the first eight years of my life. He left behind a legacy that will live until my last breath. John Slade was a man of beauty and inner strength. He could see into the heart of people and would say the right words to inspire and heal those present. His natural wisdom and compassion with a vibrant optimism shone and transformed even the darkest chapters to light. He was a pioneer and revolutionary who questioned convention and dogma. As a free thinker he challenged crusty thought processes that imprisoned many in his day. His blood overflowed with the milk of human kindness but his progressive thinking could not be contained by man made religion.
John Slade was a father of engagement and was deeply involved and present with his family and friends. A man of nurture and love, one of my earliest memories as a child was snuggled up on my father’s chest with his arms wrapped around me. Unconditionally loved and contained by him. He was kind and strong at the same time and vivid colour radiated from his charismatic smile. When he spoke and taught all those that saw him were taken to higher ground. He loved my mother completely. Her spirit, intelligence and beauty captivated him. They were true partners equal in intellect and passion.
As a child he encouraged me to speak my thoughts and ideas. He would stop and look at me paying attention to each word. My voice was strong as a child nurtured by the unconditional love of my father. My father was a role model of emotional health and ways of being in the world.
Yet this beautiful life, this beautiful man was taken so early. He was just 41 years old. His death was a shock and life changing experience. He left with no warning. The last night I saw him he kissed me good night and he was a happy healthy young man. I woke the next morning to hear that father had been rushed to hospital and was fighting for his life. He died that day. He had a cerebrale haemorrhage.
I still cry sometimes when I think of his passing. I was traumatised by his death and was the only one who could not watch his body being lowered into the ground with the dirt shovelled in. I ran from the grave with tears flooding my face not wanting to accept that he was gone. It took me over 20 years to go back and visit his grave and I sat on the ground for over an hour talking to him. This experience healed so much.
I was always told by my father’s closest friends and family that I was like my father. Smiling, I felt honoured and happy that they thought I was like him, but have spent much of my life up to 41 with this irrational fear that like him I would die at 41. Each year that I have lived beyond 41 I cherish and celebrate and rationally know I will be ok.
Each Father’s Day a feeling of melancholy and tender sadness soaks my heart and I long to speak to him to tell him I love and admire him and that he was beautiful father. That in those formative 8 years of life that he gave me so much. His unconditional love, his kindness, his intelligence taught me to have my own voice and ways of thinking and to have the confidence to speak my truth. His death made me an artist when I was a teenager. By looking for him in other men Vincent Van Gogh, T.S. Elliot, George Orwell I would sit for hours drawing their faces trying to connect back to his kindness through the expression of them.
So today, because it is Fathers Day I want to pay tribute and honour my father John Slade even though he is no longer here. And while I still live I will cherish and honour the gifts of beauty and life he has given to me.
I would also like to wish all the wonderful Redbubble fathers Happy Fathers Day. I hope you have a beautiful day and celebrate. I also hope you know you are loved and admired by your children.
© Anthea Slade 2011
19 June 2011
Featured in Nirvana on 5 July 2011
Featured in Imaginative Skulls on 24 June 2011
Thoughts and reflections on my late father on Fathers Day.
Also wishing all the RedBubble Fathers a very happy Fathers Day. Hope you have a beautiful day of celebration and love.
Father by Anthea Slade