Wiry silver curls shorn close to the scalp. That’s how James likes to keep his hair. The older he gets the less vain things, like hairstyles, matter to him. Family is almost all that matters to him now. How did that happen? He says now that much of it has to do with mistakes he’s made and the mistakes his father made.

His father, like many veterans of the Second World War and sons of the tilled prairies had a demoralising set of vices. During his time there were no great social services to help a man adjust to his post-war blues and rages. James’ father was a red hot furnace feeding on the fuel of desperate drinking. His loud fists drove his wife away. His loud fists drove James away, vowing never to be like his father.

James, unlike his father, would love his children and care for them.

Like many baby boomers James had a wife, children and all the other trappings of the North American image of “success.” But like his father, he had lost his children. No, not to death; his children are still living. It’s not the same, not since the divorce. He did not abuse his family like his father did and he did not drink like a drowning man but James still did hurt his family.

Through selfish spending and personal activities he neglected the emotional needs of his wife and children.

James tries hard to reconnect with his kids despite the chasm of painful memories that keep his children from fully trusting him again. Often when he sees one of his children needing some financial assistance, be it for school or some adventure, James will send them the money he has made from work. His smile says he does this out of love and joy but his saline eyes reveal that he hopes this has some penitential worth.

James loves his children. He regrets the decisions he made that sent them far from him. Maybe his children will learn to forgive him. If not, he hopes they will not make the same mistakes that he did.

James hopes that his children would love and care for their children but he is old enough to realise that this may not happen.

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