In an interview before he died, Yul Brynner was asked whether there was any one thing in his life that he would change if he could, and in answer he said: “I’d have stopped smoking”
Yul Brynner died of lung cancer in 1985.
His sense of hopelessness at the end of his life, in respect of a lifestyle that he believed had cost him his life, moved me very much.
I have been reflecting on what I would change about my life if I could, here and now in the present and here it is.
I wish I could spend more time with my little children, just listening to them, talking to them, holding them whilst being calm at the same time.
Like Yul Brynner, I can’t go back and change the past, and perhaps my perception of the kind of father I was when my children were growing up, is clouded and unclear and not really a reflection of how it was.
I did spend time with them, I read to them, I made up stories for them, I played with them, I made them laugh, I hid from them, I jumped out on them, I tickled them, I treated them, I went on holiday with them, I had picnics with them, I bought them gifts and I provided a home with all the essentials which they needed.
So what is this grief I carry around with me which feels like failure?
I suppose it is that whilst doing all those wonderful things, I was unhappy and anxious and scared that I would not succeed, that I would fail them in some way.
I want to go back and do it all again but without the fear.
Mary McAleese, former President of Eire said at the banquet in Dublin Castle on HM Queen’s State Visit to Ireland in 2011, “that whilst none of us can change the past, we have chosen to change the future into which we hopefully can let in enough light to allow perspectives on the past to soften.”
This aspiration, in her fabulous speech, is at the heart of my struggle to accept how things have been, and how things are today.
I am surrounded by evidence that my adult children love me, but I sometimes resist letting that love in, so that my sense of having failed them by not being open with them about my suffering, is what, I want, at this point in my life, to change most of all.
To live in the present, was summed up by HM Queen in her speech in Dublin Castle on the same evening – “we must learn to bow to the past, but not be bound by it”
I have worked very hard in recent years to be calm, to be open to the ideas that my adult children have about their lives and to be as supportive as I can.
The bit that is missing, the bit that I would most like to change, is being able to feel their love, after having explained to them the fullness of my truth, and that is the hardest bit of all to change.
My next blog will be: Chapped Legs