If you have come here looking for Joseph P J Boughey, you have, sadly, not seen him for a very long time, and you are in good company. By coincidence, I set up this weblog on the 90th anniversary of his birth, but we have been without him for over 25 years, since October 1986.
What can I write about my father, so many years later? The tributes have, perhaps, all been paid. Most of those who paid those tributes, shortly after his passing, have themselves died, many of them recently. Even so, my mother has had people come up to her to tell her what a kind man he was and how he is still missed. In a way, I can only second that.
As his only son, I am in a different position to most of those who have mourned and missed him. I am very different to him, and have grown in a world that he did not know or (earlier) did not understand, and my reactions would greatly differ from his in any event. I have lived most of my adult life without him, and about half of my whole life. As I have developed, so have my feeling for him – what it was like to be in my early 50s, for instance, a time in his life when I knew him best. Despite so much difference, my respect continues to grow, amid my sadness that he was so trapped by others, mostly by his feelings for other people who did not reciprocate those concerns. “Too kind” is a term used in sarcasm, yet it was true of him. A good epitaph, perhaps.
There is much that is implied by that expression that someone is “missed”, and I won’t use it here about my feelings. I still make new discoveries about Dad, despite his obvious and longstanding absence. The world that he left has changed greatly, and so have I. But, after 25 years, he is still thought about, in the background, a background that still seems solid as time recedes. Despite what we are always told, we do not really “move on” and “detach” ourselves from people that we love – all the relocating and detachment is done, forcibly, to us. I wrote a piece for a writing group that included the phrase “and the devastation that it brought” about his death. Some strange soul underlined this phrase and put a series of question marks after it. Strange soul, or a sad creature whose parent played little part in their life, or was not significant to them. The devastation caused by Dad’s loss is now in the past, the debris cleared away, and a new life was built long ago. But he will always be a significant presence.