There are so many things that made him special including his intellect, his honesty, his integrity and his sense of humour. However, if I was to choose one admirable characteristic it is the way he handled adversity. Having been born in 1923 Dad grew up under harsh but loving conditions. Being the youngest of 6 children, and with a Father who was both crippled and aged, Ewy had to learn at a young age to be self-sufficient.
He married shortly after returning home from serving Australia in World War two – despite having received a ‘Dear John’ letter from his fiancé during his long absence. He then spent the next couple of decades being the best Dad he could be – despite some significant dysfunctional family issues. None of these issues were of his own doing but it is how he dealt with them that shows us what a true man he was. Out of respect for his memory I will not share with you the sordid details other than to say there were many occasions when he could have thrown in the towel due to unfaithfulness, unplanned pregnancy, gambling and drug addiction – to name just a few!
He wasn’t the perfect Dad – I don’t believe there is such a thing. Ewy was often distracted, ‘too busy’ and emotionally disconnected – but in his heart I knew that he was doing the best he could. Regardless of these shortcomings Ewy showed me how to be resilient, ethical and strong – despite what the world throws at me.
Much of Ewy’s good character was invisible to me for a long time. To be honest, up until I was about 35 years of age, I didn’t give much thought to my Dad – he was just an ordinary man from my perspective – that of an arrogant youth.
I guess I started to mature when I was in my 30’s after I, too, had gone through a significant relationship breakdown. But a major turning point for me was in 2013. I spent a weekend with Harrison, my then 11 year old son, at Darren Lewis’ Fathering Adventures camp. The weekend was a life changing adventure filled with activities, learnings and fun to help facilitate a strong bond between father and son. I learnt so much about being a Father at that camp and it dawned on me that my own Father, Ewart, had in fact displayed many of the characteristics Darren Lewis was trying to ‘teach’. I phoned my Dad upon returning from the camp and asked him ‘how did you know how to be such a good Dad?’ – sadly, at the age of 90, he said he couldn’t remember those early years.
I believe that my father’s integrity and response to adversity have contributed a lot towards what I now do for a living. I am a Psychologist with a mission to help everyone have a rich, full and meaningful life in spite of their circumstances.
In closing I would like to share with you a song I wrote about being a Father. Whilst it sounds bizarre, I actually had the song ‘When A Boy Becomes A Man’ come to me in a dream shortly after returning home from the Fathering Adventures camp! It describes the sometimes difficult journey a young man has to take in order to become a ‘man’. It involves feelings of abandonment, confusion, failure, longing and forgiveness. The song ends with an acknowledgment that no one is perfect and that you just need to do your best. The song aims at uniting men and celebrating their journey. It is emotive, inspiring and empathic and is targeted mainly to Fathers and Sons, but also to men in general.
As a male, a father, and a son I can relate to the emotions of confusion, frustration and abandonment that the song talks about. In addition, as a Psychologist and Great Change Maker I regularly see men, both young and old, who are struggling with these emotions. It is amazing to see how empowered these ‘men’ become when they realise that they can change the way they think about the way they think, and deliberately influence their own lives so that they can become the best they can.
The song is dedicated to my Dad – Ewy. I have recorded it and am using it to raise funds for Fathering Adventures. It is available at www.boytoman.com.au for $1.99 (or download lyrics for free). If this song leads to one extra father and son experiencing fulfilment as a man then all the time, work and money will have been worthwhile.
This article is dedicated to my dear old Dad Ewy & all boys and men through their journey to manhood.