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Dads and Fathers - Healing Relationships


Dads and Fathers
Healing Relationships

By David Wills

My dad was a Father – while I, forty years later, I hope, was a dad. 

Our Jewish father’s name was Cecil Solomon Wills, but our country Welsh mum called him “Mickey” – she didn’t like “Cecil” and who in Poole was called “Solomon”, anyway? 

He’d grown up a single child with his mother, Gert, a nanny in Lyon, France and sophisticated Paris who upon her retirement, with Cecil, returned to Clapham, London

The French paternal grandparents, the Simons, gave Gert two homes, one to rent, and a little row house to live in in Ramsgate. His father stayed in Lyon and was sent his death at Auschwitz in 1943. I think our father grew up pretty much alone, reading Boys Own Paper and Edgar Alan Poe. He joined the newly formed Boys Service of the RAF when he turned sixteen in 1921. Gained his BS in Aeronautical Engineering at night school at London University

Eloping at 27 with 18-year old Ena, in 1936, they had Robin in 1938, followed by world-war-two and, in 1940, the new-born Lawrence – who died. I was born a year later. 

Dad had few, almost no friends. Sure, he related to the guys he was at aeronautical school with, but they were all killed in the second world war. He had few friends beyond his chess partners, one of whom was Alan Turing who cracked the Getman WW2 Enigma code and invented computers. 

Warm and attentive at times, Dad was mostly distant, he tried his best – he told good stories about bears in the wood, and took me to museums. 

But dad’s relationship with our mum and his kids subsided into constant bickering, presumed infidelity, and a feeling of distance. As a result elder brother Robin left for Australia when he was 17-years old. 

Dad was asocial, even antisocial, with distance between him, his wife, and his children. For me this turned to real physical distance as I left for Mill Valley USA when I was 30-years old – at the same time as dad and mum were both dying, leaving younger brother Peter to look after them. 

Twenty years later I had my my first born, Ann, but who at two-years-old left San Francisco with her mother, Carol.

Although Ann went to New York, she returned, alone, immediately she hit sixteen. 

Ann and I were in written contact, all the time she was in the East, visiting San Francisco occasionally. We were playing Oxford English Dictionary games – I wrote stories for her with short archaic verbs and nouns. We had close phone and mail conversations every week, but it’s not like being close at hand though, as I was, ten years later, with Alessandra

I tried to be as different to my distant father as possible with Aless, while her mum, Mary, lived across town. I spent at least three days a week with Aless –teaching advanced sneaking and creeping, and knocking on doors, the ways of the roads, and busses. We rated the different playgrounds, of which there are 20 or more in San Francisco. I read aloud every H. Potter and many Terry Pratchett’s tales of Discworld, two or three nights a week. Told her made-up Sleepy Bus Stories that she never heard the end of – because she’d fallen asleep. We learned strange things in visits to the stream in the Arboretum Japanese garden, where she gained knowledge about shadows and reflections. Aless went to art school, as had her older sister, Annabelle, before her. 

Both young women are now living fulfilled lives, Aless living in a garden commune, attending college, and learning to be a self sufficient teacher. Annabelle is a Manager at Levi’s and an accomplished actor, singer, and chanteuse. We are all close – and I’m their dad.