Today is the first Sunday in September and Australia celebrates Father’s Day.
If you are blessed with a wonderful father who is still living, be sure to give him an extra big hug and tell him how much you appreciate him. You’re never too old to do it.
Unfortunately I don’t have a happy relationship with my father. He turned his back on his family nearly 40 years ago and never looked back.
But this post is not about being a downer on this important day.
This Father’s Day, I’d like to introduce you to my grandfather, a man who exemplified everything a husband, father and grandfather should be and take a look at just the ways he influenced my life.
Charles Edward Beadle was born in October 1927 in Starbeck, a little town near Harrogate in Yorkshire.
He was the son of a coal miner, later an estate gardener, one of four children – three boys and a girl. He was not quite 18 when the war ended, but while still on military service, he fell in love with my grandmother, a flame-haired Irish woman two years older than himself.
They had two children, my mother and my aunt.
After one particularly harsh northern winter, he read a newspaper advertisement inviting people to emigrate to Australia. His decision to clip the coupon came as a result of a pique.
He had been walking down the street when he saw an old man reflexively tug his forelock at the passing of the local Lord’s car which was empty apart from the chauffeur. That really grated against his sense of fair play and the belief that one deserves honours only by merit.
In fact, so short-lived had his outrage been, he never even mentioned his actions to my grandmother and forgotten all about it until a letter arrived from Australia House – the family had been accepted. They were going to Australia.
There were opportunities here that one could never dream of in England – plenty of work, the chance to own a house, a chance to live modestly well. Not extravagantly or ostentatiously – that was never his way. His ambitions were simple a modest house, a modest car, a happy family.
I became particularly close to my grandfather after my own father left. What I learned from him were not conscious teachable moments, but rather it was the way he lived his life.
First of all, he valued education. He only attained a Year 10 education, doing what most did back in the 1940s if you were part of the working class. But what he did do was never stop learning.
He loved the library – a world full of books and it was ‘free’. That alone was enough to warm the heart of a Yorkshireman.
And he read.
And he read everything.
A little of Shakespeare, a little of Jane Austen, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Agatha Christie, the Encyclopedia Britannica, mechanical how-to books, Mills & Boon Medical Romances he was fond of too.
He showed me that all you needed was a frank curiosity and an open mind. With those two things, you had everything any university could teach you.
Secondly, he valued hard work and lived within his means. My grandfather was never one to sit on the dole. It was a safety net only. When construction work dried up, he applied for anything and everything. He even worked as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman.
Not that the family ever went without. For a short time he owned a boat and he saved up enough money to go back with my grandmother for a holiday in England three times.
Thirdly, he valued fairness. His ambition for a better life was never at the expense of his family or his community.
He always supported the dreams and goals of others.
When I was a young teenager and decided I wanted to be a journalist, he encouraged me wholeheartedly. At that stage no one in our family had ever completed high school, let alone had an ambition for a profession.
Years later he said that if there was one upside from my father’s departure, was that I had been allowed to nurture my calling and not belittled for it as my father most certainly would have done.
In fact, it was the only unkind (although true) thing I every heard grandad say about my father.
He also fostered my mother’s ambition when she was ready to rebuild her life. He encouraged her to study for her librarian qualifications, which she did while raising my sister and me. And through, that my mother became the first person in our family to receive tertiary qualifications.
Most of all he embraced life wholeheartedly.
He was an open-minded seeker of truth and he found it, embracing it without reservation and spending many hours working as a volunteer for the less fortunate.
He converted to Catholicism to marry my grandmother – and as I understand it, a stipulation of her Irish father. And to this day my she says my grandfather was a better Catholic than she was.
He loved technology and in some respects was one of the early adopters in our family – microwave oven, mobile phone – he loved it all.
He wasn’t quite sure how he could make use of a computer, but when the internet came along, he was ready to jump on board. The idea of sharing e-mails, images and information from around the world delighted him and was ready buy one when he passed away.
When we were building our house, he was there too. My husband had to stop him several times from climbing up to the roof to help, he was that hands on. Grandad was no stranger at the gym either, working out with weights when he was in his 70s. Truly, he was vitality personified.
Charles Edward Beadle – Charlie to everyone, not one could ever say a bad thing about him – passed away in March 2001.
I see his face and hear his voice almost every day, such is the influence he had on my life. I know that he, like my late mother, would be proud of my writing career and even now I can feel their encouragement (my mother would be okay with my sex scenes, but I do blush with the idea of my grandfather reading them).
Happy Father’s Day to you grandad.
Happy Father’s Day to the amazing men whose love, influence and inspiration makes our lives richer and gives us the foundation to reach higher.
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