it’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to talk about anything but photography on these pages but with father’s day around the corner I thought I’d take a little time to talk about my thoughts on fatherhood and what I’ve learned as both a father a son and grandson.
My Grandfather was an engineer of sorts although I only knew him as a retired tinkerer and carpenter who would spend hours in his workshop mending anything for everyone who asked, I recall that he was particularly talented at mending clocks.
I don’t especially recall much grandfatherly wisdom that he passed to me directly other than him very generously giving me a small bone handled sheath knife when I was probably 6 or 7. I of course promptly cut open my thumb and he did a great job of covering up my injury and whilst I don’t recall the exact story that was given to my mother and grandmother as to how I came by the injury I know for certain that it didn’t involve him giving a small boy a knife.
My own father still has that knife and as I learned much later in life that it was his all along and my grandfather had no right to have given it to me.
Sadly Great Grandfather Bunny Chow passed away in my early teens and I never had the pleasure of being able to share a beer with him but I remember his acerbic wit with great fondness.
His workshop was in the process of being moved to my parents property at the time of his passing as Great Grandmother and he were downsizing into a smaller home.
The workshop has lived on as he would have wanted it to with his workbenches, lathe and other shop tools now incorporated as the core of one of my fathers two retirement jobs. Yep you read that correctly he has two jobs in his retirement. Without delving too deeply into politics the mismanagement of the Zimbabwean government essentially means that no one in Zimbabwe has a pension any more and there is no such thing as state assistance so if you don’t work then without the help of friends and family who are likely in similar positions and not able to help out anyway.
Still my father managed to nominally retire from corporate IT a few years ago and set himself up as a fixer/mender in the style of Handy Manny. Like Great Grandfather Bunny Chow before him my father is a skilled if formally untrained engineer and a talented electrician and a lifetime in Africa has taught him when best to make use of Zimbabwe’s cheap and plentiful workforce only actually undertaking more technical or quicker jobs himself leaving him plenty of free time to partake in his other business or passion.
This other business is one of the things that my father passed on to me through osmosis, I’m not by any means a twitcher or birder but with so many of my childhood holidays revolving around travelling to far-flung reaches of Africa to locate endemic birds you cannot help but learn from his infectious excitement. I’m not here to promote his business but those trips into the bush to hunt, fish and bird watch are the things I miss most about life in Africa and the times when I was closest to my father.
I don’t profess to have become a talented engineer or master bushmen through my association with either of these wonderful men, but their wit and passion for what they love have influenced me greatly through my own journey to fatherhood. I can only hope that I will be able to stand up to the standards set by both of these wonderful men in the raising of my own two boys.
My father and I live on opposite sides of the world now and sadly won’t be able to spend any time together on father’s day but I know that he will read these words and we’ll share a beer or three with thoughts of each other and our many adventures in the African bush.
The photo’s littered through this post are of their workshop as it is now and my father, my two-minute search failed to dig up one of Great Grandfather Bunny Chow and I together the best I could come up with was the portrait of him in his mayoral robes hanging in his workshop.
Sorry if this has been a bit of a ramble but I have written it as I thought it.
Cheers Pa I love you xxx
Until next time
Mr Bunny Chow