I found Archie Roach when I was looking songs for National Sorry Day. Particularly, “They Took the Children Away” and “Munjana“. I was just reflecting on Archie Roach’s feelings, and the feelings of people from the Stolen Generation, and others who had their families split up, taken away, or were damaged or failed spectacularly in some way.
It’s possible to feel love, joy, sorrow, grief, loss, compassion and communion, all at the same time. I hope that people can feel that their life experience and feelings are meaningful and sacred, and that their sorrows are acknowledged by the people around them, even while we find ways to bring those people into our hearts and give them that love and family that they need.
Culturally, we are “supposed to” honour and commemorate our wonderful parents on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and that’s a beautiful thing, but I’m not the only one who has mixed feelings. My 7 siblings and I lost our Dad to suicide, when I was in my early 20s. My youngest sister was an early teen.
And we didn’t just lose him, then. We felt his loss even when he was alive because, in his mental and physical illness, and the stress of trying to provide so much for us, he never really did “fun stuff”, with the exception of watching the racing on a Sunday, and talking about cars. We loved our Dad so much, and needed him more than he knew, but his struggles were too much and we’ve been left trying to fill that gap somehow.
Many people feel struggles like this on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day, and as a musician I want to help people feel included and heal from these pains we have. Many a Christmas period is also a misery for people who are lonely or just don’t have what our culture seems to tell us we should have.
I hope on Mother’s and Father’s day we can let our joy and thanks for what we have be tinged with a true respect and acknowledgement for those who lack that joy, and through doing that, to help their hearts to heal, and for them to find that deep connection with us. Family doesn’t need to be exclusive. “Come join us”, is the feeling and invitation I hope we can give, and that the ones we invite into our hearts will recognise the risk we take to open our hearts to strangers, and trust they will become trustworthy, as true and loyal brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, or children to us.