With our house contents sold, we moved down to Essex to live with my parents and, very soon after, I was packing my life into two large suitcases and two pieces of hand luggage!
Clothes and a few miscellaneous items filled the suitcases. One piece of hand luggage was my collection of vinyl records which I was trying to make look lightweight so the airline people wouldn’t want to weigh it! My other piece of hand luggage was my Yamaha guitar!
And so the day arrived. My Mum decided that she did not want to say her farewell at Heathrow Airport, and so those parting hugs were completed in their driveway. Likewise, we thought it best if I bid farewell to my “guys” at home. Dad had volunteered to drive me to the airport and so, after a round of farewells, the two of us left.
It was a relatively quiet drive. Dad had never expressed personal feelings to us kids very often, so we never really knew what he was thinking, and the drive to Heathrow was no different. Perhaps he was thinking back to their own plans to emigrate to Australia* many years earlier? Perhaps he was a little envious of the opportunity that had been presented to us? Perhaps he was wondering what on earth I was going to do in Canada?
We arrived at Heathrow Airport and immediately checked-in the suitcases. Much as my “records carrying arm” was complaining, I clearly made carrying that particular piece of luggage look effortless as nobody showed any interest in it. There did not seem to be much purpose served by Dad hanging around, and he did have to work his way around London once more in order to get home, so it was decided that we would say our farewell. I then went through the security area and Dad headed back to the parking garage.
Our farewell has prompted many thoughts since that day. Our family were never open with emotions. Even Mum was very guarded for most of the time, although she did show some tears when we had our final hug. Dad did not seem to know how to handle our parting, and I was looking to him for some direction. We shook hands with “All the best Col”….. and that was it.
I reflect back with considerable contradictions because I thought nothing of it at the time. I had no expectations and so a handshake was feasible. It was not until I began to socialize with Italian and Portuguese immigrants in Canada that I realized how “restrained” we (English) were! Now it seems to me incredible that a father saying farewell to his son, and not knowing when they would see each other again, would part with a handshake and “All the best Col!”
My belief is that he was just as confused as I was, and did not know what to do in this unusual situation. Based on meeting him various times after moving to Canada, and after I had initiated a welcome hug, which he returned very freely. I can only assume that he probably would have liked to have been more open at our “farewell”, but either felt very uncomfortable based on his relationship with his own Dad, or simply did did not know how I would react and therefore “played it safe”!
Thinking about my imminent flight was very distracting as I followed the signs to the departure lounge. I had only flown once before, and that was in a small two engine, propeller driven, plane across the English Channel from Southend to Ostend. This time, I was traveling in a “Jumbo”!
As I strapped myself into my seat, I recalled a year earlier when we took the kids to Heathrow and watched so many planes taking off. The interesting part, to me, was that they all lifted off at approximately the same spot… except the “Jumbos”! They were still accelerating until almost hidden by buildings before they lifted off the runway. Now here I was, sitting in one of them, and wondering just how long it would take to get this plane off the ground!