A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & Owner
Ray Rasmussen, General Editor

Volume 13, Number 3, September 2019

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Gerry Jacobson
Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Father of the Groom

It’s a strange connection we have, me and K. He's billeted with us for the wedding: he's the father of my friend, the groom. We talk. When he sees me swallowing pills, I tell him I've got a heart condition. "Oh, you're too young for that!" he says. How old are we both? It transpires that we share a birthday.

K was born in Germany. I was born on the same day in England. Six weeks later these countries were at war.

There was violence all round me but I was oblivious. As a baby I was evacuated to the countryside with my mum. My dad wasn't eligible for military service, and did civil defence work. He and the rest of the family were bombed in London, lost their house and shop, but survived in a backyard shelter. My earliest memories are of the rocket attacks in 1944, and my first playgrounds were the bombed sites of London.

a wildflower
among the weeds
in the rubble
of a bombed-out childhood

When I recall my father I get a feeling of warmth, knowing that I grew up cherished, as a little prince. And now I see my two sons with their small children passing it on. Fathering passed down through the generations, along with our XY chromosomes.

But K's father was conscripted in the German army, and didn't come back for six years. Fighting on the Eastern Front and then a prisoner of war in Siberia. Unimaginable suffering, and he returned traumatised. An absent father, and later probably a dysfunctional one. K himself as a small child survived the bombing of Hamburg, then lived through the ruined Germany of 1945.

So the chain is broken. When K's turn comes, he tries. But it's difficult to father without that inner core of being loved. By a father. In a masculine sort of way. So his son (my friend) strives to restore the chain.

in the dance
turning around
I come
face to face
with Adam Firstman