My father-in-law during his RNZAF days.
In some ways the choice of this photo of my father in law, Roger Gray, for this week’s Daily Post photo challenge “Up” seems a bit obvious – maybe even cliched. But it is especially poignant this week.
Roger was a pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force for several years before joining NAC; New Zealand’s domestic airline. He flew for NAC, and later Air New Zealand for over twenty five years – retiring in 1986 as the senior captain on domestic/Pacific flights. Even now, when we board Air New Zealand flights they are sometimes piloted by people Roger helped to train.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this photo in the last few days; of the confident, smiling young man fulfilling the dream of so many boys (and girls). Last Tuesday, Roger fell and broke his hip. He is now in hospital, in pain and waiting for an operation. He has family around him and is receiving skilled and compassionate care. But his recovery will be painful – and probably slow. For Roger, “Up” has a whole new meaning.
My grandfather and my son – spot the resemblance?
Family resemblance is a very slippery thing. People I know who were adopted have reported being told how much they looked like their adoptive parents or siblings, and even within biological families there are always arguments about who someone “takes after.”
When my son was a baby, I thought he looked like me and in fact, people used to describe him as a “mini-me”. Later, I could see both of my brothers in him, but the general consensus lately has been that he’s really, really like his dad.
So I have to say that I was a bit stunned when I looked at the photo of my grandad as a young man, and all I could see was Tom. It’s there in the eyes, the cupid bow lips – and especially in the nose. I’ve always thought my siblings and I got our features from mum’s mother’s family, but perhaps not.
My grandmother always used to say that Tom was like his great grandad – and that was where he got his auburn hair. But since my partner also has auburn hair, I tended to dismiss everything my gran said as at best, a bit misguided. But I was wrong, and I wish I could apologise to her.