A father’s heart

A father’s heart

There is something very touching about a bride being given away by the man who received her father’s heart when her father sadly died several years ago. Judging by the number of people who have watched the YouTube clip, you think so too. We all want a little bit of immortality and this is a very real example of how close humanity has already got to it. I’m sure there were happy memories stirred and maybe a tear shed as well.

The heart is not just a body pump. We have adopted it as a symbol of our feelings, affections, better values. We equate it with love, with Olympian success, with generosity and with all those things that raise our eyes above the horizon of bank account and special offer. When we mean something we say it with heart. When something hurts we get heartache.

We too often forget that we inherited a little of other peoples’ hearts. Not literally the physical organ but the personality, beliefs, lessons and joys of parents, grandparents and ancestors stretching back a long way. What they did, who they became, was handed on to us. It was an inheritance more valuable than gold bars. It was the foundation on which we established our life, the building blocks from which we constructed the person, the heart we are.

Their teaching may have been poor, their knowledge, primitive by today’s standards. But their struggle was usually at least as hard as ours, often much tougher. We have resources they couldn’t even imagine. The pace of their lives was slower. Did that make them wiser? Either way they were the source of our life whatever our ethereal beliefs.

Our gratitude for that is, of course, what we hand on to those who follow. It, too, will be flawed for we are not perfect creatures. Our concerns for the welfare of our children, grandchildren and subsequent generations will be mirrored from their parenting. As the writer P. D. James said “What a child doesn’t receive s/he can seldom later give”. That’s a salutary thought both about our inheritance and about what we are handing on.

When asked what would make them happy most people say peace and money. Peace is a somewhat vague concept. What people mean by it depends on their experience of violence. Today we all share the terrorist destruction that is wracking the world. The news reports touch us when someone we know, or might have known, is affected. Increasingly that means the rest of the world because we are globalised for news today, for feelings tomorrow.

Money can make people happy but usually only when they give it away. It’s acquisition and conservation is being denied by the consequences of printing too much of it. The next economic steps place mankind’s foot firmly on explosive mines we have been anticipating. It is a lesson we urgently need to hand on to prevent further collateral damage.

The symbolism of a dead father’s heart still beating at his daughter’s wedding should not be lost. Each of us is making an impression on the next and later generations. We may not be present at our grandchildren’s or great grandchildren’s weddings.

But a part of us certainly will be.