Self Expression Magazine

The Passage of Time

Posted on the 29 May 2012 by Russellvjward @russellvjward

It was a photo of reasonable quality.
It had a sepia tone and the corners had curled. I imagine it might have a musty, papery smell that would make you want to inhale deeply and breathe in its age and memories. I say "imagine" because I could not touch or hold the photo, but only view it on my computer screen.
It was a school photo taken during the middle of winter in a different era. The trees in the background were gaunt and sickly-looking, deprived of their leaves. The students were lined up in the foreground and wore heavy, black blazers with warm, gray flannel trousers.
It seemed cold there.
He sat cross legged on the floor, arms firmly folded. The second person from the left, two rows from the front. Sporting a quiff of mousy-brown hair and with a pair of government-issued spectacles planted squarely on his face, he was surrounded by his grinning peers. He was the epitome of seriousness, staring ahead at the camera with a fixed intensity. He was a mere boy in his early childhood years. He was looking straight back at me.
My father, the schoolboy. My father, who turned 70 this week.

The Passage of Time

Photo credit: ToniVC (Flickr Creative Commons)

My father
Time marches swiftly on. It waits for nothing and no man.
The years have accumulated and my father celebrated a significant milestone this week. He will reflect on the photograph taken at that school in those early years and likely remember the anticipation he felt at all that his life would come to hold.
He will look back on the course that his life took and think back to the things he achieved that could never have been imagined before.
His marriage to a local woman with British-Canadian heritage.
The birth of two healthy children into a loving family.
The fulfillment of business interests and the nurturing of passions - to travel abroad, to create in the garden, to explore closer to home.
A life unexpected.
His son
To my own schoolboy photo and that familiar mop of hair. The same serious face, this time touched with a hint of a grin. Taller. Skinnier. A more inquisitive nature. Similar but different.
Time moves forward and this life took varied and unexpected turns.
My own journey.
Undergraduate study in the Midlands, returning south to the family home, Sarah, my dogs, an old English cottage, leaving England for Canada, crossing Canada, working for foreign governments, reconnecting with my grandfather's own story, departing Canada and then...
To Sydney, Australia and a life far removed.
First marriage then loss, creating a nest, growing a family. Three countries, three continents, and soon three people.  
New beginnings
Several weeks have passed since the announcement of my big news.
There is a noticeable spring in our steps and anticipation in the air. My wife's belly grows bigger and my dog and I regard each other knowingly. Life is about to change.
It will never be as it was. New responsibilities lie ahead for this father-to-be. A traffic light of emotions moves hourly from nervousness to slightly overwhelmed to entirely overjoyed.
But time will continue to pass relentlessly.
The little 'he' or 'she' will grow quickly and their own life will begin to take shape. One day, they will have their own school photo. It will capture a precious moment in time as mine and my father's did.
My first child will stand to attention, formed up in front of the photographer.
Will they don that trademark seriousness? Will they stare intensely at the camera? Will they consider their unfolding life, full of promise and potential, opportunity and expectation - and, born into Sydney, poles apart from my own and my father's?
As one generation celebrates a milestone, a new generation waits patiently. The next chapter in our lives has begun and my little one's journey in life has started.
I wonder just how extraordinary it will be.
Did your child's journey develop differently to your own? Did you raise your children internationally? How have things turned out?
Do provide any pearls of wisdom for this father-to-be below or simply share your own generational experiences.
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