“I must keep working. I’m an essential employee” he’d emphasised this point a few times. The word “essential” echoed in my mind. Was he really essential to his work? Sure, his technical skills were required to carry information in the form of news broadcasts to all corners of the world from his seat in a studio within the Voice of America building in Washington, DC.

But was this his life’s work?

Could he see other roles in his life besides that of a sound technician? Even if he did, he wasn’t acting or even talking like it.

The Idea of a Holy Grail

My dad, like all dads of his generation, is motivated by one thing. To provide for his family. I’m certain that this is the Holy Grail for him. He pursues it relentlessly even when there’s no longer a family to provide for.

Did I mention dad is nearly 70 and separated from mum? And did I also mention he lives in Washington, DC, mum in Istanbul and my brother and I ended up in Australia?

Like King Arthur before him, motivated by a desire to bring the Holy Grail to Camelot, his Kingdom, dad has never ever neglected his duties to be worthy of the Holy Grail. He pays his taxes on time, performs meticulous maintenance of the cars we’ve left behind (mine’s a 90 model Geo Prizm), collects rent and looks after investment properties in the U.S. and Turkey to ensure that he will always be able to provide for his family.

This is the reason he won’t take time off to see us or his grandchildren. Someone needs to earn the money after all and the U.S. Government has rigid requirements around how much vacation time he can take. He doesn’t want to overstep his boundaries.

How Did it Work Out for King Arthur?

Growing up, one of the most fascinating things about dad that’s stuck with me is his obsession with Medieval England, King Arthur’s country. Dad even spent some time in the south part rife with artifacts from the legendary king. Maybe I inherited my obsession with the Arthurian world from him? Who knows.

If you haven’t read the Arthurian legends or seen the movies, I’d hate to spoil it for you but King Arthur’s search for the Holy Grail didn’t end well for him. It cost him his wife, his best knight, a blood bath resulting from his knights turning against each other, the collapse of his Kingdom, Camelot and finally his own life.

The Good News?

King Arthur may be dead but there’s hope. He’s buried in the mysterious island of Avalon which is surmised to be today’s Glastonbury on the south of England. Like all mythical figures before and after him he will be resurrected according to legend. I would argue that every time I write one of these blog articles, King Arthur’s bones twitch, magically move closer together and perhaps every time someone produces a movie adaptation of his life, he turns over in his grave.

For dad, who is still alive (whether he has a life or not, joking!) there’s still time.

Retirement is an option.

I hope he realises that he’s so much more than the job that he has. Mum’s words to him that he’ll never amount to more than a Government clerk must have penetrated him deeply. He’s been unable to give up this role as one. Such is the binding power of words. Let’s use them with more care today.

To me dad is much more than a conduit for American views on the world. He’s a creative and resourceful person like all of us who struggle with belief in ourselves.

The struggle is real.

Over to you…

Who’s a special family member you’d like to reconnect with? How are you taking that first step today?