Dad was a great man, great, despite the religion. He was powerful, tall and intelligent, yet humble and kind. He was an introvert, and a Circuit Overseer. He never smoked, drank moderately, was rarely sick, but died at just 64. A man of contradiction.
Dad's life revolved around my mother. She was his first love and he lived his entire life for her. It was a rare relationship that few will ever be fortunate enough to experience.
I had a good, stable upbringing. We had family outings, loved camping and fishing. Dad was PO, but let me go to a Private School for year 11/12. I had a cross on my tie that offended others, but he thought was no big deal. He encouraged me to go to university in the 1980's, when the Watchtower was strongly against it. I should have realised back then that deep down he was his own man.
I'm not sure I really knew him. He never discussed things of an emotional nature - a true Tasmanian of English stock. The opposite of my mother with her outspoken Hungarian ways.
When I was in my early twenties they went on the circuit. It was not long after that I started to doubt. At first I used to help write his talks and we'd discuss situations he was dealing with, but over time he felt he could no longer speak to me about such things.
Dad never did forgive me for the way I left. He wanted me to disappear, move, fade … do whatever it took to remove myself from the radar, so that we could keep a relationship. But I had so much resentment and pain that I felt no alternative but to go out roaring. He did not speak to me for several years. When my child was born he could not keep away. We had brief contact on a bi-annual basis when he would come to Sydney to see his grandson.
The Circuit was his life for 20 years; I did not not want to take that from him anyway. He was greatly loved as a CO, because he was kind and reasonable. He was not the greatest orator, but he cared and it showed. I hoped though that after he retired from the circuit he may relax and then we could discuss things. Maybe come to a consensus of sorts. He never read my site. I'm sure if he had he would have felt some pride for what I was doing and achieving. Realised I was not consumed by anger, just trying to help those that did not feel the religion was for them.
Dad was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer 15 months ago - a result of stress. We kept in touch weekly since then. I learnt a lot. He was not dogmatic about things, and felt I had taken information in the Watchtower too literally. He didn't believe people had to be Witnesses to survive Armageddon, or even that the Governing Body are spirt directed. He believed the Bible was, and they just do their best to interpret it. Faith is just faith, unproven, and not something be dogmatic about. He said he was a Witness because it seemed the best option for our family; I think he was because it was what Mum needed.
I think we made our peace. It is just sad that time went by so quickly.