Saturday, September 15

Mr muscle


“I’m weight training” he calls out from his study as I enter the flat. I laugh and tell him that’s good; he could do with a bit of exercise. “I know, my arms are turning to mush, it’s embarrassing… not what they used to be”, he jokes back. I carry the shopping bags into the kitchen and put them down by the sink, trying to avoid stepping on the cat as she winds in and out between my legs, hoping for a mid-afternoon snack.

“Richard asked me to look through this very interesting collection, it’s from a friend of his father’s… her husband recently passed away, and she has no idea what to do with it. It’s mostly England… I’ve only glanced at it really, but it looks very promising.” My father continues his monologue while I put away the shopping; his voice light and happy. I put a few of his favourite sweets; chocolate covered coconut, on a plate and bring them to the study. He looks up at me with a smile, his glasses balancing on the very tip of his nose, and then he sees the chocolate. “Oh, you are a good and thoughtful daughter” he says with a grin and motions for me to come closer so that he can kiss me on the cheek.

My father is a stamp collector, and hasn’t actually done any weight training in years (although in his youth he was very athletic and once cycled 150 km just to see a football match, and then back again at the end of the game). But he only lifts stamps now.

I suppose stamp collection is a hobby of the past, but it is one that suits my father’s temperament and personality particularly well. He’s a shy man, he’s always been very hard on himself and he has lived most of his life with a sometimes crippling sense of social inadequacy. Stamp collection has served as something of an anchor; it has given him both stability and peace, but just as importantly it has also provided him with a social scene where he has always felt completely at ease.

Being a collector is a fundamental part of my father’s identity and the security it has given him has always extended to me and my mother, and at no time was this more apparent to me than when I was a child. I have an abundance of wonderful evening memories from my childhood when I would be lying in my bed at night, just about to drift off to sleep. The light would be on in the study, and I could see his shadow bending over the desk as he searched through reference books, looking for that all-important connection between a particular stamp and a particular post mark.

18 comments:

Herb Urban said...

That is a very touching story.

Jo said...

Hello again! A lovely post.......I could visualise him so clearly.

Stacy said...

This is a sweet remembrance. And it's so nice to think of his collection having layers of meaning.

tumblewords said...

A nice tribute! Enjoyed the read!

Saoirse Redgrave said...

Wonderful! I could see him looking up references and appreciating his treat of chocolate so clearly... What a wonderful way to relate to a collector.

~Saoirse

Miss said...

What a lovely memory. I could feel the texture of the stamps.

-- MissMeliss

KG said...

You've made me look at stamp collecting in a new way. I'm happy that your father has this in his life. :)

Poppy Fields said...

I agree that a passion like collecting can give one a social anchor.

alphawoman said...

My mother is a stamp collector and has had a stamp club at the small catholic grammar school in my hometown for over 25 years. Each year she has a handful of new kids that want in. On the average she has about 125 kids each year. Don't you think stamp collecting is like ....well, seeing the world! She has many connections throughout the world for stamp exchanges as I'm sure your Dad does. Very sweet post by the way.

alphawoman said...

I mean she has 122 - 15 kids each year. Lol. She couldn't handle 125 kids. lol

alphawoman said...

Damn my key board (it's alwyas the key board) 12 kids to 15 kids!

La Cubana Gringa said...

What a gift...the memories of the past as well as the new memories to be made in the future. So glad you're dad's doing so well. xx

Patois said...

I can see your dad now, you've described him so completely and endearingly.

Nicole said...

i always thought it would be grand to be a collector of some sort. stamps would be a very lovely thing. your father sounds like the perfect man for this type of collection.

my grandmother collected angels and bears and tea cups... a little much i always thought, but now that she is a nursing home and i have a few parts of her collection it settles with me.

xo

gautami tripathy said...

What an affectionate post! Very loving. I could visualise him.

Vanessa said...

a beautiful glance into your (and his) present and past.
Vx

BlueJude said...

What a wonderful post. I think we are all collectors in one way or another. It's so nice that you have such wonderful memories of your dad. Happy Day WP!

Captain Cat said...

What a very lovely way to introduce this particular aspect of your life. You talk about your father with such warmth and sensitivity. A beautiful post.