The Sea Soaked Sandal

I’ve taken a lot of pride in this website.

I do not mean that I think the content is the best or the photos are superb.

No, not at all.

I mean that I’ve managed an 85 week run with at least one new item of content each week.

I mean that if you’ve taken the time to comment or email me, I’ve taken the time to reply, and I’ve done that quickly (usually).

Then a couple of weeks back, well that all stopped.

Perhaps you’d like to know why?

Well, it’s been a bad month.

In Feb 2016 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He was given 9-12 months live expectancy.

In Oct 16 he was told you might want to celebrate Christmas early this year chap, as you’ll unlikely to be around for the actual day

But he soldiered on. And on.

In Feb 17 his stent became blocked

He beat this.

In March 17 he fell and broke his hip, necessitating a replacement

He beat this too

In Sept 17, he fell and broke his arm

I had a trip to the UK booked.

My Mum rang.

Suggested I might want to arrive sooner

14 hours later I was in the UK

My Dad was fighting.

We were told his cancer had spread to the spleen

My Dad was still fighting, never complaining about the situation, never a case of why me? only ever a case of well, why not me?

He then contracted pneumonia.

This is what ultimately beat him.

But they don’t call pneumonia the old man’s friend for nothing. It spares one a nasty, lingering, crippling death and instead provides a rather more merciful, express check out version.

And it was peaceful. I know because my Mum, my brother and I watched it.

I’m sure many if not all of you have had similar experiences in your own lives.

So at this point dear reader – you’re at a reading cross roads – this article won’t have a great deal to do with photography or Fujifilm cameras.

So either

A) Full service will be resumed. The Sunday article, the Wednesday blog serialisation of the Sunday articles and foto-friday will all start up again next week, so see you then

or

B) Keep reading this article which truth be told – I’m mainly writing for therapeutic reasons

So for the first time in over four decades of life, I have no father.

This is a big thing.

So often we find our minds crunching data – should I buy this lens or that one? Should I shoot colour or monochrome? Edit in this app or that one? Book a photography holiday to India or Iceland?

And that’s just the photography stuff, we also have innumerable other little thoughts too: low fat or high taste? Action movie or a drama? In or out tonight?

Yes, our lives are filled with many little choices. These choices are seemingly of little relevance, tiny fleeting electrical impulses that come, go and are forgotten.

But our selections to these choices reflect our tastes, our desires and each has a small almost imperceptible stamp of our personalities within them.

And who’s most likely going to notice this subtle infusion of you in the things that you do?

Well the people closest to you of course!

And when you depart this world, these intangible traits of yourself will linger on in the people that knew you, these hints of your outward facing interactions will be how you’ll be remembered by those that knew you best.

So what I can I begin to tell (those of) you (still reading) about my Dad?

Well for starters, he’s the reason I take Photography very seriously!

Back when I was 15, he sent me on a state school subsidised cruise to Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Crete – thrust his Pentax KC1000 into my hands and gave me 3 rolls of Kodak, and possibly the worst ‘how to use a camera‘ tutorial in the history of mankind. (I still have this camera actually – it’s upstairs!)

Ironically he wasn’t really into photography!

But he understood that it was important. You send your child on a horizon broadening trip to facilitate growth. But it’s shrewd to understand that photographs will always tie in with the memories.

Dad wanted to be an accountant, but he ended up working in insurance.

Luckily for me, his career meant that I could continue in education and his camera got me through both college and a degree!

So there’s two obvious and nigh on divine traits right there!

Strive to improve the options of others, don’t let the things that held you back, hold back others

The most used word I’ve noted in the many selected by those paying tribute to my Dad is ‘humble’

Dad was not a flash man, he achieved in adulthood a great many things he didn’t have growing up as a child.

This success never went to his head nor his credit card, it always went to went to his wife and family and friends

His was a small business owner. During a particularly tough period of trade, he (and his business partner) elected to not pay themselves for 6 months, because the alternative was to let one of the junior employees go, and that wasn’t an acceptable solution

On a family holiday, when I was a young child – a sandal fell from my foot, bounced down a cliff face and into the sea.

The sandals were brand new! Did he get mad? Did he just send me into town with my Mum and some money for a new pair? (Which wasn’t exactly a huge expense)

No. He ended up in the ocean, no swimming goggles or face mask, the waves breaking over his head and battering his body, keeping his eyes wide open he rummaged about under water until he reappeared above the surface holding my sea soaked sandal.

You learn to take more care of things when you see what can happen if you don’t.

You’re awed when you see someone take on something that’s clearly scaring them.

In my late teens I wanted a motorbike. Dad was not keen. Forbid it. Denied it.

I pleaded and begged. I pointed out I wasn’t asking for money, just permission.

He wasn’t keen…. eventually he decided what I wanted was more important that what he wanted, even when the worst case scenario of what can happen when motorcycle riding is every parents worst nightmare

As I said – he was a humble man.

He bought products that filled his needs. He was immune to marketing and brand cachet and when he was teased by people questioning his choice of car against far more grandiose options (that would of been within his financial grasp) he stood his ground, he didn’t bite, he didn’t cave to peer pressure.

There’s so much out there these days about generations

The baby boomers, the millennials, generation X

My Dad was a baby boomer – some say they had it best…. no world wars or great depressions like their parents endured, some say success is easy for that generation

Perhaps…. Although I doubt that success is ever easy.

But I know this, Dad worked for everything he could get, never let it go to his head and instead used it to improve the lives of those around him.

He achieved all these things, he worked all those hours, he gave his family so much whilst giving himself very little, and did it all with the trademark twinkle in his eye.

And how can I mention Dad, without mentioning my now widowed Mum? They met in 1967. They married in 1972. They never parted, they never stopped loving each other and they raised two children.

Kudos to you if you’re still reading…. and yes a page full of bleeding heart words written self indulgently to a whole group of people who are not visiting here to read this sort of stuff, effectively mansplaining to all you people who’ve undoubtedly had your own losses and sadness.

After all – death is a very large and far reaching organisation which everything will one day join.

But I think for me… it’s not about boasting about my Dad, it’s not really about apologising for my lack of content of late.

No, it’s about understanding how who we are and what we chose to do inspires others and I can think of no better tribute to any human being than to look at their life and think not only were they a good person, but their goodness touched those that encountered it

My Dad, or your Dad, or your brother or your sister or your Mum or your friend, it doesn’t matter who, when someone has had a positive and long lasting impact on you, this should be celebrated and cherished and given the cachet that it truly deserves.

Not entirely sure why I’ve shared all this…

But I started shooting again yesterday and writing again today. Which is good, because getting on with being me, rather than doing nothing but moping about mourning him is the most fitting tribute.

Thanks for reading and your patience in waiting for my site to get going again.

I’ve not much to add, except

Live for a twinkle in your eye, that will add catch light to the eyes of others.

Dad

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16 thoughts on “The Sea Soaked Sandal”

  1. Hi Adam. This is the best writting you ever made, and i have read almost all, and it is also about photography because photos are life. I’ve been fighting the same war your old man did for some years now and i can tell you that the most important thing in this war is knowing that one have the ones we love in our corner. I am sorry for your lost. Keep on living for him, that’s the best tribute you can give him.

    Like

  2. That’s a wonderful tribute and photo at the bottom. Stephen was much loved, always ready to listen and is greatly missed. RIP friend X

    Like

  3. Adam,
    Congratulations on getting this down on paper, I’m sure it wasn’t easy to write and underwent a fair few rewrites. I lost my father in 1999 however I think you were lucky that you had time to say goodbye. The first I knew was when his wife phoned me at 3 am to say he had fallen out of bed and she thought he was dead.
    I arrived to find two paramedics attending to my now dead parent.
    Death is never easy, I hope writing this has helped you. Like you I was inspired to take photos by my dad except he was a photojournalist.
    I too post a regular blog – The Monday Picture is on my wordpress page, feel free to take a look sometime.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much Murray,

      100% agree – we made sure that Dad was able to spend as much time with his grandchildren as possible.

      Some really beautiful shots on your Monday picture page.

      I have fond memories of multiple visits to Paris, and being a Doors fan (and an Oscar Wilde one) I’ve found myself lost in Pere Lachaise on a few occasions

      Like

  4. Hi Adam. I sensed right away in your “fish out of water” post, that you where facing a loss. My first father passed away 22 years ago when I was 18. Combining your description of your father and the many blog posts I’ve read on your site, I sense some of the same as I experience with my father. They kind of live along through us. We are not them, but we carry parts of their personalities in us.

    I wish you all the best, though you likely do not feel “the best” right now. Times of loss sometimes bombards us with mixed and opposing emotions. Sometimes, those feelings may even scare us and feel “wrong”. Stay strong and alow “weakness” to be part of that strength.

    Immanuel

    Like

    1. Hi Immanuel,
      Thank you very much, it hasn’t really sunk in yet and having so much time to be ready for his passing was no preparation at all.

      You words “They kind of live along through us. We are not them, but we carry parts of their personalities in us.” are spot on and insightful

      Thank you for taking the time to comment I really appreciate it

      Regards
      Adam

      Like

  5. Adam,

    Having just acquired an X-Pro1, your wonderful site was suggested by Google in my search for good information, so we are recent acquaintances so to speak.

    Please accept my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your father. By your words he was truly a giant amongst men to those around them. Our world is lessened by the loss of your father and men like him.

    Thank you for your amazingly eloquent tribute to your father. I too am a father to 2 spectacular children and your description of your father provides many qualities to emulate. I’m definitely not perfect, but strive every day to be a better person/husband/father.

    Most days I succeed. Some days I don’t, but that is where your words will provide inspiration to me and to all fathers out there.

    cheers,

    Chris

    Like

    1. Thank you very much Chris, that’s a lovely comment to receive.

      I find writing about the camera fairly easy, most weeks… but it was a bit of a challenge to write something so personally intimate.

      It’s humbling that it’s been so well received

      I’m sure you’ll like the X-Pro1, as long as you don’t rush it along too much it works just fine.

      Kind regards
      Adam

      Like

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