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The Dead Had Toys In Their Pockets

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 28 Jun 2023, 17:52

Some of my cosiest childhood memories for me is being tucked up in bed and my dad reading me stories. Peter Pan, Pinocchio. Oliver Twist. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrope and many more.

I often think, not occasionally, but almost daily, regarding the little children who must go to bed without the story because of absent fathers. This is no fault of the mother. Being a single parent is a challenging task.

When I was in my late teens, I became fascinated by another group of missing fathers. I read a book about HMY Iolaire. This was a vessel that was returning to the Island of Lewis on Scotland’s west coast on January 1, 1919.

On board were no ordinary group of passengers, but 283 men who were returning from WW1. As they anticipated returning to their families after much deprivation and discomfort of the war, they no doubt looked forward to catching up on the lost years of absence.

The waters were hostile that day and the captain struggled to negotiate a safe passage. Suddenly, the ship struck rocks and 201 of the 283 men perished.

When the bodies were recovered, in their pockets were toys. Yes, toys. Toys for their children whom they had dearly missed. Gifts that would re-establish the lost years with their relationship with their little ones.

In an ideal world, there would be no absent fathers. Many, if not most, are absent by choice. Some by circumstances beyond their control. And my sympathy goes out to the latter.

 Imagine the scenario, a charity organisation that organised fathers with loving family lives to volunteer to pop round to the homes of children of missing fathers and read them bedtime stories. But in today’s world with many child predators, the idea seems absurd.  On the plus side, I’m happy that literacy is high in the West and many children learn to read for themselves. And I’m sure many single mothers take time to read to them despite the challenges.

Image by Barrett Ward (Unsplash)




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