Atticus Finch and Me

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it:

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Who doesn’t love To Kill a Mockingbird?  Both the novel and the movie.  I can remember the first time I read it, and it is still a favourite movie. The first time I re-read the book it was even better, as I could picture the characters – Gregory Peck was the perfect Atticus Finch.

My father was and is not a lawyer, but he is very much like Atticus Finch.  He has strong values to which he is faithful, has been and continues to be a good father, was and still is a leader in his community.  He is someone to whom others looked up, and always looked for, and saw, the best in others.  He and my mother lived a life of service to others, and the worst punishment as a child was to be told by my father that he was disappointed.

He is still, at 94, a man to admire.  I wrote a post recently titled Just Keep Swimmingmy code for the need to keep going when times are tough.  Little did I know how important the words were.

I had a bad day last Sunday.  I wasn’t well, was tired, and something happened that made me upset, for no rational reason.  Dad needed something at the shops, and I had been to the shops that morning, taken him to church, was taking him somewhere else that afternoon, and I was generally a bit ‘over it’ that day.  I cried.  Ugly cried. I railed against the injustice of it all; the exhaustion. I guess I needed a cry – salty tears are a good cure for some ills – as I felt better not long after.  A phone call with my sister of course helped.  Figuratively speaking I gave myself an uppercut and decided to get on with it.

I realised that regardless of how difficult the situation was for me ( and let’s face it, it was only a momentary feeling, and one that I had had before, and knew it would pass), it must be so much harder for Dad – losing his independence, coping with so much change in a short space of time, facing the fact of the frailties of old age, and dealing with a bossy daughter who seemed hell-bent on changing his routines.

That realisation made me think of Atticus Finch and his advice to his children – to look at things from another’s point of view to understand what they are going through.  This had a calming influence on me  – perhaps it was not just the wise words, but the fact that I imagined Gregory Peck speaking them.

Change is difficult – coupled with old age it must be frightening.  And if Dad can do his best in those circumstances, then so can I.

I do hope Scout and Jem took care of Atticus in his old age.  I like to think they did.

atticus-finch

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