It was 3o years ago today that my eleven year old world was thrown in to chaos. My Father decided that it was time to leave and took his own life, four days before my twelfth birthday. Looking back now it was obvious that he suffered from depression, an illness that I have my fair share of battles with, but back then it was not talked about. There really was no “therapy”, people just gave you a kick up the butt and told you to get over it.
My memories of that day are embedded in my brain and I can recall them with crystal clarity. Over the years you move on and you think of them a little less, but when the big anniversaries come around it is hard not to think of that day. People say “I think of them every day,” well I would be lieing if I said that. After 30 years I know there have been days where I haven’t thought of him at all.
But this post is not going to be about me being sad even though I am today. It is about how the man, Douglas Baker, shaped my life even though he wasn’t around. My Father as I think I may have said elsewhere in this blog was my role model. And in the few years that I knew him, I knew that I wanted to be like him. I’m also sure that my memories of him are all rose-tinted, there must be some things about him that I choose not to remember. My Father was funny, he would always have a joke or a story to tell, his old one line gags are something that I still repeat to my kids today, much to their moans and groans.
He was one for practical jokes, something that will never grow old in my book. I’ve always enjoyed practical jokes, like filling up someones office with boxes. He would love to mug for the camera, and loved his old 8mm cine camera. Old cine film night was always a good evening in the Baker household. Seeing movies of my sisters running around when they were younger than me. That embarrassing part of me in a paddling pool. A few years ago, my clever nephew James put them on to DVD for us, so now I can watch them whenever. Theres a great part where my Father and his friends, tried to make their own Movie. The car chase scene was hilarious, mainly because they drove so slow, and his version of Doctor Who was classic, what with him pretending to come out of a Police Box. I too love photos and filming silly things, another part of him that rubbed off on me. Though I can never get anyone to help me make stupid movies!
My Father worked hard and when he was home he would be doing one of his hobbies, they changed from month to month as was his mood. He liked to make things, he was good with his hands that way, that is something that I never picked up from him. He would make chess sets, wonderful candles, and with him being involved with the cub scouts he once made a chain out of wood. Wish I had a photo of that to show you, but it was very cool. He also liked to fish, something I have not done since he died, mainly because I was no good at it. We would get up early and normally head off to West Stow lake (living in Michigan now I laugh at the term lake,) and we would fish for most of the day. I would for the most part get bored and fling maggots on by one into the lake, and if I did catch a fish it would always be a Perch. I could fish in a lake with no Perch in it and still pull one out of the water.
For those of you reading and may be confused, this entry is not about me wasting time with my Father. It is about the 30 years of wasted time that I have had without him. If a man can shape and mold a boy in eleven years, my humour, my love of music, my way of thinking, my outlook on life, my fondness for beer, imagine what he could have done with 42 years. That is how old I will be on Thursday. I often wonder what if. I’m sure my sisters do too. We ponder about all the things he missed, Us growing up, getting married, all the grandkids he never got to meet. But then if he had have stayed alive, perhaps I wouldn’t be where I am now. Maybe I’d be back in England, who can tell. As the song says “The future is not ours to see.” One thing is for sure, as long as I’m alive, you live on in me, for I am my Fathers’ Son.