Fergus and Father
So my object is a ring. It was my dad’s ring. It’s a turquoise Navaho wedding band.
I remember my father wearing it. He didn’t wear it all the time but it’s very interesting actually, because when my father passed away I was given his wedding ring and lost that, which was horrible, and then my mother gave me her wedding ring which matched it and I lost that, which was pretty astonishing and then my mother just went through her jewellery draw and gave me this ring and I have never lost that. Never lost it. Never taken it off since I got it.
It’s interesting because it’s very small and I’ve sort of always worn it on the finger that fitted it tightest, if that makes sense? To really make sure I wasn’t gonna lose it. And so have had it for about fifteen years now and I’ve gained quite a lot of weight so thankfully it’s not coming off.
When I think of my father, the first thing I think of is how little I know about him and how that’s not something that’s ever going to change. I lost my father when I was fifteen, so it’s weird now; he passed away when he was 42 and I’m 32 now. So it’s interesting to know that I’m getting to the point where I will have lived longer than my father. It’s interesting...sort of, the key moments that I hit in my life, like when he had his first child...when he got married for the first time.
My mother passed away just a couple of years ago so I obviously inherited quite a lot of her things, as well as some of my father’s stuff, obviously, that she was holding onto. So I’ve got a whole trunk full of stuff now. But there is something about the fact that the ring doesn’t leave me, and probably never will, that I really, really, really like.
We used to argue about everything, especially because obviously my father passed away when I was fifteen and I was the snottiest fifteen year old in the entire world and neither of us were very good at losing an argument. So we used to just have these debates that would sort of go on for ages. In fact, when my father passed my mother told me my father used to sleep with a dictionary under his bed because we argued about the meaning of words so much. So he wanted to be able to double check before he went to bed, which I think is fantastic, and also he never came back and said ‘ha ha I’m actually right’...so I like to think that he checked in the dictionary and I was always right.
Multi-talented; I suppose my dad was one of those sort of Jack of all trades type of people. He was very intelligent and could sort of pick things up very easily. And he did such a wide range of jobs in his life: from owning his own business and being interviewed on Georgia state radio about being a business owner, to working as a mechanic, to working as an architect’s assistant, and just sort of a really wide range of stuff. But also interestingly, I don’t know what he wanted to be or do. I never got the sense that he had a specific dream or ambition.
I guess mysterious. I don’t feel like I knew him very well when he was alive. I did care about him a lot but I don’t feel like we were...well I don’t know, I think we were close but we didn’t know each other very well. I guess we knew each other as well as a fifteen year old is gonna know his dad. But yeah...I think at fifteen he was still very mysterious and I would of liked to know more about him, I think...and certainly now.
The only thing I can think of is bearded. My father always had a beard, which is very strange, now that in my 30’s I seem to have settled with a beard. But it just sort of... It was a defining characteristic for my dad and in fact I think he only shaved it once when I was about four years old and apparently I was terrified of him and wouldn’t go near him.
The ring is really tight. It’s really tight and if it’s hot out, or my hand is swollen, or something, or if I gained any more weight... it really is tight and sometimes it does feel almost on the verge of painful. And like...not painful, that’s a massive exaggeration, but it’s definitely physically present, do you know what I mean? I’m very aware of wearing that ring on that finger. So that’s an interesting thing...that it’s slightly choking. And also the skin underneath...there is obviously a permanent red ring around either side and I also have a callus on the top of my hand just under where the ring sits, which is interesting. And the skin underneath is just weird and scaly obviously because it hasn’t seen the light of day for fifteen years.
I think the fact it is always present with me but I do take it for granted a lot is probably a pretty good analogy for my father. Both when he was alive and now. I’m very aware of the fact that I’m never going to get away from the fact that my father died. And the longer...the more time passes it becomes less and less like a conscious part of my daily life. But it is a weird thing that every now and then...that when I look at my life it really is sort of an enmeshed in everything; the fact that my father has passed away. Every moment of my life. It’s something I really can’t get away from. So, in that way it’s very much like the ring.