This is my dad – Noel Faulkner, born on Christmas Day, 1929. He passed away in August 2012. Without realising it, he had some incredible lessons to share…
Dad was one of those special people that you instantly warmed to. The sort of person you felt you had known all your life even when you had only just met. He had a very relaxed, welcoming nature that everyone could sense was authentic and without effort. There’s not many people around like dad. Yes, there are LOTS of fantastic, beautiful people but it often takes some time and effort for their beauty to shine in the eyes of another. Dad was part of that special group that you can connect to almost without needing time to be familiar and comfortable around them.
What did dad do that made connections so effortless for him? Here are some of my reflections:
- He never needed an invitation to talk. If dad was sitting on a bench in a shoppiing centre and someone sat beside him, you could bet they would be chatting almost straight away. Dad never waited for the other person to speak yet had an uncanny knack of knowing when it was best to stay quiet.
- Dad could laugh about the negatives. Even trivial matters hid a chuckle somewhere. For example, contrary to this blog post title, dad didn’t have a middle name. As kids we would tease him that his family was simply too poor to give him one. Dad played on this by explaining that missing a middle name was, in fact, a blessing because it meant he could choose any name he wanted and he’d always had a fondnest for the name ‘Algernon’.
- He had a genuine curiosity about others. Dad sincerely wanted to know who you were, what you enjoyed and what made you happy. He didn’t enquire to be polite – he simply made the time to listen. To some, at times, he was misunderstood. Some people saw him as a bit naive; a bit of a softie or uneducated but that was far from the truth. Dad simply had no desire to compare himself to others. He didn’t view himself as any less of a person to others or better than them. To dad you simply were who you said you were – that was it, and it was enough.
- Dad didn’t keep score. In dad’s later years as his health declined he had to move into a nursing home. This was a big adjustment for all of us, especially mum. For some, seeing dad unwell was too hard to face, and there were many people who struggled to visit him regularly in the nursing home. However, when they were strong enough to visit, dad would welcome them as if he’d only seen them yesterday. He didn’t keep track, he didn’t carry resentment about things that happenned in the past. He simply remained happy to be in the moment. I don’t remember dad ever having a long term grudge about anyone in fact.
Perhaps the biggest realisation I’ve had about dad and his openess is that is came effortlessly to him. He didn’t even know he was doing anything special. For dad he had developed an unconscious competence when it came to connecting with others and he was a better person for it. He certainly was an excellent teacher.