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Monday, 28 May 2007

Rowing the Boat of Life

By Claude Covo-Farchi of Blogging in Paris

My father was a self-taught man. He had to leave school to go to work, at age twelve, after his father had left his mother to work as an accountant, which nowadays seems incredible.

All his life, he read and read and read. He was interested in astronomy, politics, and my parents' bookshelf was always full of varied and interesting literature. My father was a fan of Immanuel Velikowsky, but he also read Sartre, de Beauvoir, Robert Merle, Tolstoy, and every single day in his life read the French newspaper Le Monde, from first page to last.

An unwilling shop-owner but a man of duty
He became a shop-owner against his will, but had he had a choice, no doubt he would have studied astronomy or geography, who knows?

He hated the selling stuff part of the business. He didn't like the contact with customers and wasn't really good at it. He let my mother do that. He stuck to the accountant part of it. He was a man of duty and in those times, self-fulfillment didn't seem as important as it does today or, rather, he thought it was important for his children to have a job they liked since for him it was too late.

At one point, I considered following into my parents' steps and taking up the family business, because I was convinced I wouldn't like teaching and couldn't, at the time, find a job. I remember several conversations I had with him telling me I shouldn't give up using what I had learnt, to become just a shopkeeper.

A feminist
I can still remember the pride in his eyes when I became an English teacher. To him, having a daughter who was a teacher was like the ultimate step in the social ladder. And he was a real feminist. One of the things he repeated to me was

"A woman must be free and independant. And the only way to independance is to have a job and earn money. Don't ever depend on a man."

No doubt it had to do with the way his mother, who depended on her husband, had been left to fend for herself. In any case, this lesson turned out to be useful when my husband died, leaving me and my six-and-a-half-year-old daughter.

Remembering my father feels good and one last memory comes to my mind: weather permitting, when I was a child, he would take me rowing on the small lake at Bois de Boulogne on Sunday mornings. As if he had been teaching me to row the boat of life.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:17 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Claude, I loved this post about your father. What a warm and inspiring man he was. How wonderful that you knew the great sense of pride he had in you...not every child knows that, or even has that in their life. Thanks for sharing this memory of your dad Claude.

It is a rare thing to have a father who thought as yours did, especially in that time. You were lucky!

Lovely story, Claude, about your father and his effect on your life. Quite a lesson to have given you about being independent, since that was probably not the prevailing attitude of the time. I learned the same lesson at a very early age through observation. Seems some still need to learn it today.

It's amazing what a visionary your father was. He sounded like a very special man.
Loved your story here, Claude.

Your father was indeed teaching you to row the boat of life and he taught you well. You have already come through stormy seas with grace and courage.

Claude, this is lovely, and made me feel all warm and shivery at the same time. What a good and gentle man your father sounds, able to appreciate his blessings more than regret the opportunities he did not have. It's a beautiful thing to cherish such memories.

You know, my mother told me the same thing! We and our children benefit from this advice.

You father sounds like he would have been a good man to know.

Thanks for your warm and friendly comments everyone.

What a wonderful story!!! Even though I have been reading Claude's blog for over a year, this story told me more about her than any one post I've read.

Our stories are our life and this makes me realize we should be telling more of them. Thanks, Claude.

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