Living in the present still means respect for the past
Updated: Jul 25
I wonder if it is so easy to say "It's fine" for >75 to have their free TV licence revoked, because they aren't as "visible" as they deserve to be?
It's father's day in the UK today.
My dad is flying to Malaysia to visit family. I had to book his flights – with wheelchair assistance at the airports, a seat near the toilet, help with his limited vision. They are very helpful each time, and he often reports that he sometimes gets a discretionary gift bag if there is one left over from “First” at the end of the flight.
I’m glad, of course, he’s my dad. In my eyes he’s “king” and should be treated as such.
I wonder what they see.
I think they see a slow old man who walks with a stick and is legally blind…and a little deaf. They are polite and kind, but they probably won’t try and talk – it’s tough, you have to speak a little louder now and he’s often too proud to show he can’t hear everything and will simply smile to be polite.
I might see the same.
Because I have the luxury of working from home some days when I walk my dog I see a number of elderly neighbours with theirs. One used to be a manager of the post office, another cares for his wife, another for her nephews and nieces. They too are a little slower, and a little greyer and maybe I know a little more about them, but I don’t see their full story.
Do the flight attendants see that my dad came to train here (in Kirby College, Liverpool) as a teacher on the first programme ever run by his country? He then taught Craft Design and Technology back in Malaysia as was his commitment before moving here with nothing. Then he worked hard, and while paying his taxes sent money home each month. Not content with that he began to invest in property. While he was doing that this allowed him to engage in two other passions – studying law and automotive mechanics – he loved fixing cars. I used to resent not ever having a new car, but now I love that I can get a slightly “nicer” model if I’m willing to put a bit of TLC in – and what do you know – my husband is an automotive engineer.
Did the people who saw him walk me slowly down the aisle – with his cane – my holding his arm rather more than the other way round – realise that his popularity as a teacher once stopped him getting mugged!? He was at a cashpoint and was told “Give me your money”. He turned around and the same voice said “Sir – what are you doing here?” – apparently he was the only teacher who actually had time for the boy…they went for a coffee (and a “dad lecture”) and I like to think it was a turning point the young man needed.
Do those who see us park in a disabled space know that my dad drove his friends all the way around Europe one summer, and has a cabinet of badminton trophies and once won a game playing with one hand tied behind his back holding a chair?
But what do they see when they look at me? Me – at the age when I would love people to know me. I’ve published two books, I’m the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show on Sky, I’ve had articles published in magazines and given comment on the radio (my dad has listened – he can’t read so clearly now). I launched my second book in Malaysia and I felt like a superstar - my dad had brought a number of his friends to the Kuala Lumpur launch.
If anyone looks at me and sees my vivaciousness, my drive, my grasping of opportunities…my success? – they'll also see my dad.
Happy Father’s Day.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt