In June we celebrate Father’s Day. However this last year has made me think of three men in my life who have directly or indirectly affected my life.
One is my dad’s father William (Bill) who was a Lighterman on the Thames, therefore a Freeman of London, who also served as a Warrant officer in the British Army, fighting in Africa during the 2nd WW. A hard and strong man who died whilst we were in India. He was dying before my father and mother left, he told my dad to go as my dad wouldn’t get another chance to do something like that. Bill was a strong man, a hard man, a strong father who wasn’t the easiest to get on with but was loved by his family. I didn’t know him but always felt his presence through the stories my grandmother Hilda who would tell me about him who I loved deeply.
Then there was my Mum’s dad George who was born in Battersea in 1900. He joined up in 1914, and worked on the airfields. He became a Civil Engineer overseeing such projects as the bouncing bomb. He marched during the depression, fought for the rights of working men all over the country. He cared for his wife, who had a mental breakdown, who never knew who he was until the day he died in 1992. A man who loved his daughter and cared for her whilst working all over the country. A man who fought for the right of all those who needed hearing aids to receive them free. A great storyteller, who when he was dying it was the first time I told him I loved him and he simply said “I know.”
Then my father, who grew up as young man who could look after himself with his 3 brothers against those who took the mickey out of the Messer family. A man who worked hard and was a Master Bookbinder and printer at WH Smith in London and the British Museum. He then became a missionary with mum, looking after the blind in India. Later in life becoming a priest initially as NSM. The Archbishop of York took him to one side and told him that he should be in a parish fulltime and gave him one which needed help. A man who loved me and my brother, whose laughter and cuddles I still miss, who loved my mum so deeply. When he died the whole village and surrounding areas turned up. The day before he died I told him and mum to stop bickering as couples do and I told him I loved him. Then the following morning I got the phone call to say he had died, he was only 63.
These men helped shape me into the person I am today I still love them and miss them.
I pray for all those whose relationships are not so good that they may be healed.
I have another Father whose love is abundant and these men are now with him so this year I will celebrate Father’s Day and be glad that these men are in Grace with Our Father who is in Heaven.
Revd David Messer