All kinds of people and events help shape us through life. Births and deaths, loves and separations, friends … Some are more impacting than others. They can elate us or shatter the core of our foundations to move them distances away. Permanently. And sometimes to precariously balance on the edge of a drop the height of Mt Everest.
Sometimes, the impact of those ‘movers and shakers’ might not be seen for years, even though the reverberations of their influence can last a life time. It’s not until you take a sudden glance back over your shoulder one day that you see something entirely unrecognisable, a you of yesterday. It’s a stark reminder of what life is really all about.
Movers and shakers come and go without notice and can make repeat visits. I discovered this the other day when I turned around after checking my son in for his physiotherapist appointment.
‘Monika, it’s you,’ I heard a comforting voice say. It was the kind of voice your heart knows before your brain can register. It took little effort to see the same bushy-bearded man I met more than 35 years ago! Our eyes locked into recognition, my whole body relaxed into an auto pilot way before my brain understood.
‘Mr Findlay!’ was all I could say. A hearty cuddle and kiss took me immediately back to this wonderful, life-saving man’s office, even though we stood in the middle of a medical surgery. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in his very grey office as I grieved the loss of my father. I’d howl and sob and occasionally stare at the crinkled cream venetian blinds in his office when I didn’t want to listen to reason. And there was Mr Findlay, consoling me. Talking to me and listening to my every word. I could say anything and everything I said was okay.
I looked at Mr Findlay staring at me and smiling through that same bushy beard, although now grey. The same voice and demeanour, same body silhouette. It was like I’d been flung back in time.
But there was something else for beyond the surface, my heart knew his heart. All my facades fell away and even with my son beside me, I felt the vulnerable child again. Nothing mattered and I was safe.
We chatted about life, his life and family and mine. I hadn’t seen him in almost 10 years when I had written a dedication piece on my favourite teacher teaching me to grieve. For me, I couldn’t have written about any other school or life teacher but Mr Findlay. He was touched by that.
After a quick chat, we were called into our appointments. We cuddled and kissed again but it didn’t feel like a good bye that would be forever. It was more a, ‘see you next time’.
If it wasn’t for Mr Findlay’s care and time all those years ago, I may not be where I am today. I know I wouldn’t be. He guided me those next few years over that rocky road of grief, holding out his hand when I fell down, guiding me through the multitude of hair-raising forks in the road I had to decipher, and grabbing hold of me when I was about to fall to depths unseen.
You can’t live life without those movers and shakers and aside from my parents, Mr Findlay was probably my greatest life influencer. He was the mover and shaker that stabilised me. Although my grandfather lived beyond my father, he was my grandfather. Mr Findlay was the closest role model I had as a father.
Thanks Ray. If I created only a fraction of the influence you had on me, I’d be very humbled. X