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My Dad

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A Tribute To My Beautiful Dad...

By Paul Jackman

My Dad, Doug Jackman, was a skilled Toolmaker.  He worked on a large steel planing machine in a factory owned by "English Electric' in Preston, England.

Sometimes he had to stand on top of the machine in order to free something that had become jammed, which was normal practise.  Above the machine there was a 'bottle' hanging down with  STOP/STARTS buttons on it.

On February 14th 1949 he was doing what he often had to - standing on the machine to free up something.

Maybe it was something on the bottom of his shoes that made him slip, grabbing the 'bottle' for support and pressing the START button, he was caught in the machine and crushed between a casting and some blades.

Very little was found of him except for his wedding ring.  The rest of my Dad was on the walls and factory ceiling.

He was aged 31 and I was just 6 ½.

He was a wonderful father who spoiled me and our family.  I remember him as being a very loving man.

Fourteen months later my mother remarried.  Yes, only 14 months.  I suppose it was to enable her to forget my Dad.  It was then that the abuse started - with a leather belt for any small misdemeanour.

I recall one event was when I was about 9 - I was ten minutes late home from the local library.  I had to get on my knees on the floor, crying and begging for mercy.  They were laughing at me, I suppose it their idea of fun.  It happened much too often - it was no fun for me.

My mother and her new husband often moved from place to place, mainly living in caravans.  They had a daughter, my half sister Cathy - but she didn't really know what went on.

I grew a little day by day and when I turned 16, living in this awful caravan, they suggested to me, "We think you should be a garbage collector..."

I realised at that point I was 'surplus'.  I ran for it.  You can still see the skid marks I left behind me half way across England.

Leaving home was the best thing I ever did.

That small boy who lost his Dad in that horrible machine grew strong.  He wasn't going to let 'The bastards grind him down"

I did many things with my life.  I helped form the Jethro Tull Band; drove five expeditions across Africa as a small business - and later in Australia I earned a Bachelors Degree.

A couple of years or so after leaving home I hitch hikes 300 miles down South to see my Mother.  I knocked on the door in eager anticipation to my little sister again.  My mother answered the door and said, "Sorry, you can't come in - just go away."  I thought, I'm your son for God's sake!

That night I slept under a wall with some sheep and hitched the 300 miles back to my one bedroom bed-sit.  The next day I vowed never to see them again.

Later, after my sister left home, I wrote to my Mother asking for my sister's address.  She refused to give it to me and suggested I find her myself.  Nice mother.  But I did eventually find my sister myself and have great contact with her to this day.

In my child and teen years, my mother always said to me that my side of the family, the Jackman's were bad people and that I should never attempt to contact them - and so I didn't.

But many years later, after I had come to Australia and had my degree, I thought about this again and questioned whether this was right.  I knew my Dad had a living brother and I flew to London in 1978 to search for him in the archives of St. Catherine's House.  Sure enough, as large as life I found him in this dusty old book and living in Canada.

It was all part of my life's search to find some kind of closure in my Dad and what had happened in my life since he was killed.

When I got back to Adelaide I went straight to the State Library on North Terrace to look up his phone number in the Canada phone book - and phew, I found it!  It was a BIG DEAL to pluck up the courage to telephone him but I did.  He asked me to come to Canada so we could meet.  There I was, on the next plane headed half way across the world to meet my Uncle.

That lovely man, my Uncle Stan - my Dad's real flesh and blood - was waiting to meet me at the airport in Montreal.  I had to touch him to make sure he was real.  This was my dad - personified!

I had three very happy and precious days with my Uncle Stan.  We kept in touch until he died.  This was all partial closure for me.

Over all the years since my Dad was killed, my mother had not once given me a hug, nor did she say those three precious words, I love you, that children so desperately need to hear.  Some years later I asked her why.  Her reply was, "I just don't do that sort of thing..."  I always thought, that sort of thing, was the salt of the earth.

She is still alive today, half blind at age 88.  She writes once a year with 'issues' she has against me.  I have lived in Australia for 28 years and she phoned only once.  I have two beautiful daughters - her granddaughters - she has never phoned them even once.

I can not forgive my mother for what she has done.

I have searched long and hard to find my closure on my Dad.  I was even a monk in a monastery.  I have travelled to 60 countries around this world - but none of it really helped.

It has been 58 years since my Dad was mutilated in that steel planing machine, and it seems like yesterday.

I mourn for him.  I cry for him.

I want him here so that I can tell him that I love him.

I'm coming to the end of my story.

I say to all of you who have had a similar experience - be strong - DON'T LET THE BASTARDS GRIND YOU DOWN. IT'S ONLY FOR LIFE.

There are still times when I cry softly to myself for my Dad, and the family love I never had.

I pine for closure on this tragedy but it will never happen.  The scars are just too deep.

Blessing and Love

Paul Jackman