My Father had at the age of 11 turned to the gentleman who had asked him “young man, what do you want to be when you grow up?” and told him “I want your job”. And so he grew up to do just that. The Gentleman was a British Ambassador, and my Father joined the Foreign Service right out of University.
For 30 years my Father dedicated his life to his country, serving her, helping protect its population, trying to give aid, helping other nations have a better relationship. Tirelessly pouring over books, stats, history, newspapers, policy positions, learning new languages, and cultural nuances. He wanted his children to appreciate just how much he loved Canada, and what it had to offer, while admiring and respecting every people, no matter their stature in life. He never asked for a thank you, always believed in the power of a vote, but never discussed his own politics. He also joined the Foreign Service during the cold war, it was a different era, and a different meaning to enemy and alliance.
We were posted in Asia, I can remember vividly, my Father calling me into the family room, he told me to sit and watch. He knew it was coming, I did not, but watched as the Berlin wall was being broken down in small, joyful slow motioned pieces.
Even though I was fairly young, politics and the diplomatic circle, was my life, the significance was not lost on me. I watched the t.v and then my Father’s face, which was always poker straight, but on that day he had tears welling up. It wasn’t that he was just moved, it was that everything he and the Foreign Service that he knew, would change. He looked at me and said, the world has changed today, Germany is one, and we will embrace this change, but now the world game changes.
He had been everywhere in the world – I can think of only a handful of countries he hadn’t seen. But he never did get to see Berlin.
On our fantastic 2 month family extravaganza (you can read a bit about the background here). We spent 2 weeks in Berlin, 2 weeks of me falling in love with a city, 2 weeks of us visiting every aspect of Berlin and embracing the wall and in turn, my Father. The wall meant so much more to me than to most. My Father lived to see it fall, but never lived to see how the international political world changed. The one he joined was vastly different from the one I joined.
Berlin – to be continued.