My father grew up in Malacca, Malaysia as the third of four children. They lived in a one room bungalow even though his father was the post master in the town, a relatively good job. My father said several times that he still remembers the sounds of scorpion claws on the pressed earth floor and, his mother killing them. In comparison to many others, they lived in relative comfort. I know nothing of actually living this kind of life and unfortunately, eighty years later, still far too many do.
My father moved to Australia in the mid-60s on the sweat of his art and life changed markedly for him. If people from his old village could have seen the opulence he lived in, wow would they be jealous. Of course, wealth and luxury is relative isn't it? I am from a family at the poorer end of the scale but luckily for the children, one with parents who cared enough to equip us with some basic skills to survive the world. Dealing with disappointment was at the core.
I have often thought about how I view people and wonder how much effect this pathway to me affects my world view. For example, when I get into a taxi with a foreign driver or, speak with a cleaner who has come from one third-world country or another, they remind me of my dad. My father was a high school teacher, a very good one but,I know that no matter what he did, there would always be those who looked down upon him, as if his presence dirties their home. I think he felt it too and made up for it by always being fastidious about his manners, looks, cleanliness and above all, the way he treated people. Perhaps I am projecting but, I don't think so.
It is an interesting lesson in perspectives when considering what is a good or a bad job. What people in some places don't realise is that there are those who will risk their lives, leave loved ones behind and work extremely hard to create a better life and wind up emptying bins. People understand the risks but, they might not recognise that emptying bins is a better life for many people. It is a job, it provides a steady income, it is relatively safe and, it is a position that can provide a level of comfort one may never have known prior, depending on experience.
While some wouldn't think of lowering themselves down to such levels, others work to attain that kind of position, one that affords them possibility. I think this is also why so many foreign background children end up doing relatively well in their lives. Their parents work hard at often poorly paid positions to provide a space so the children have opportunities they didn't. Access to education or tutors or, perhaps some books. In my house, books were about the only thing we had plenty of laying about.
The children see the obvious struggle and sacrifice their parents make for them and either look to repay them by doing well or, take the path of, my life will be different. Of course, this isn't only the position of foreign children but it does tend to be relatively common.
I wonder what my grandad thought when all of his children left for other countries (Canada, England and two in Australia)? Was he disappointed or, was he grateful for being able to do his job as a parent to help them create a better life for themselves? In their new found home countries, they had access to much more opportunity than was available to them previously.
I can very well imagine that it would be terribly difficult for a parent during those times to wave goodbye to their children with all likelihood they will never be seen again. No internet, skype, calls extremely expensive and even letters would take months.
I haven't spoken to my dad in many months. I just can't. He has dementia and the chances of me getting him at a time where he can recognise who I am is slim to none. I hope that when he is lucid, he understands it is like being back in those days with him and his own father, a world apart with very little opportunity to communicate. I wish I had spent more time speaking with him when I could but, I am okay with the time we had.
It is natural for a parent to want better for their children and, it is natural for children to want to be better. I hope that I am one day able to provide the space for my daughter to learn what she needs so she can far outgrow her parents. I hope she will go on and do whatever she needs to do to create a life that is fundamentally better than the one she was born into and, if she ever has children, help them be much better than her. It is how we evolve.
My father never lived the life of a king, he struggled and he worked until he literally could work no more. There is beauty in that path and no one should ever be ashamed of the work they do but, all should consider why they do it.
[ a Steem original ]
The picture is from my first father's day when my daughter was 3 months old.