This story is about my father and was inspired by a dream I had recently about his life.
My father is only 65 but has had a long and turbulent life and career. Starting out working as a high flying, high performing foreign exchange trader in the international trading room floors of some of the biggest banks. He told me only recently that he once took a phone call from a Mr. Gates who told him he was interested in finding out more about the activity and opportunities in UK markets for his company Microsoft. He said this happened back in the early 80’s.
During this period we lived in the San Francisco bay area and my father worked in the city which for me as a 10 year old was all terribly exciting. I’d sometimes go into work with him on summer vacations for the day and he’d take me out somewhere afterwards. I was always surprised even at that age how everyone was drinking beer and wine during what seemed almost like lunch time parties. But this was just a warm up for them, they were just limbering up for the evening session. I often wouldn’t see him much until weekends but only learned as an adult just how much pain and struggle he went through there. His decisions in this time are something he regrets even now over 30 years later.
As much as this period left scars on him he also made great friendships and certainly left his heart in SF because he has been back over the years many times.
After we moved back to the UK in the late 80’s he was divorced from my mother and was axed from the bank to make way for fresh new talent as he put it.
He lost had lost his way and felt he’d lost us too. I certainly felt I’d lost my father and hardly ever got to see or speak to him and when I did there was an awkwardness and sadness which filled our visits.
He healed himself though his faith and the church and changed direction in his career and started working with children with learning difficulties. He went back to study and completed his degree and then masters degree before training to enter the church as a priest. This wasn’t something he entered in to lightly but through merit, perseverance and dedication they accepted him into the church where he worked serving his village parish for over 15 years.
Retirement was looming and he was very tired and stressed about the move with his wife from the vicarage to their new flat. His wife had been poorly for some years at this point and he had become her full time carer which he always did with complete love and kindness.
The week he was due to retire he fell one night down his stairs, the fall caused life threatening brain damage, we nearly lost him forever. He slowly recovered and eventually even remembered who we were even though he still forgets my name sometimes it still felt like a victory. Finally on the road to recovery he made great progress. Sadly not long after this his wife died in hospital from her long term illness. He coped very well with all of this despite the incredible loss.
I was amazed by his resilience, he was doing so well. Then slowly depression gripped him, and then suddenly so severely he didn’t want to continue living. He wished the surgeon had failed to save his life. Soon he thought of suicide every day and was self harming just to get some relief from his overwhelming sadness and grief.
By his own wish he spent many weeks in a psychiatric ward to be safe from himself and to get the help he needed. These were terribly dark times for him and for me and to think back now that I thought it couldn’t get worse than severe brain damage and needing constant life support.
After returning home we have had many conversations that would never have been possible years ago. He has told me that he has never been truly happy or ever really loved himself. He had always been so focused on getting ahead in his career or achieving something. He told me he doesn’t want that for me and to learn from his mistakes. I have made plenty of my own actually but this type of naked honesty was s huge breakthrough if he only knew it.
In my dream I could see him alone and lost in a dark forest in the middle of a heavy blizzard. He couldn’t see which way to go but knew he had to keep moving or he would surely die. When there was no hope left he saw what looked like paw prints in the snow and followed them. The tracks led him towards a light and as he got closer he heard distant voices. As he walked into a clearing he saw his old soul friend Jack his faithful collie dog that had died years ago. Jack had led him to the light and to the safety of a cabin in a clearing. He entered the cabin which was warm and safe but dazzlingly bright. He awoke from his coma in the ICU ward in Kings College Hospital and there was a nurse shining a bright light into his eyes.
Although he has challenges ahead and pain to heal I love and am inspired by him and excited to see the new life he can create for himself now.
To me the blizzard represents the same conditions many people face in their lives. There is so much going on with all the thoughts, self judgements and fears in our heads that it’s like a blizzard and we can get lost there. If we follow our hearts we can find our way out and carry our light again just like my father will do.
Happiness is never outside us but a beautiful brilliant light inside us waiting to be used to love and create.