As you start your career in the Royal Air Force I wanted to mark the occasion by writing to you personally – in the form of a hand written letter.
Now, it may seem odd in this age of social media to do this, but you cannot underestimate the power of the written word. I wanted you to have a tangible memory of your father and his thoughts on what is a truly significant moment in your young life.
In the future, wherever life may take you, I hope that, when you feel the need, you will take this letter out of it’s envelope, look at the familiar handwriting, smile, re read this letter and use it for the inspiration for which it is intended.
When you require that boost, I hope that my words give you that little extra energy and motivation to carry on, for I am always with you, if not physically, certainly emotionally and spiritually.
I am immensely proud of you.
You have grown into a thoughtful, caring, honest and principled young man with a wicked sense of humour. Now one might say that you are a chip off the old block, but I simply could not do that. It would be deemed far too arrogant.
You are embarking on, what I have no doubt will be, an exciting, varied and fulfilling career.
It fills me with immense pride that you have chosen to take the Queen’s shilling. To serve your country is a noble and worthwhile calling, though your Grandfather would have been horrified that you have chosen to do it with the RAF. Ex Royal Navy matelots never take these sort of things things very well. However, as you know, the RAF is well represented by other members of our family and so you are in good and honourable company.
So, what advice should I give you as you embark on your RAF career, this adventure?
Firstly, I would say that the foundations were laid in your childhood. You were an honest, loyal, loving and adaptable child. You have carried these qualities into adulthood and will carry them with you throughout the rest of your life. They are ingrained in your DNA and as such are the foundation stones for life in general and certainly for your chosen career.
As a child, you could be a quiet at times, but having two older and boisterous brothers in competition with you, that doesn’t surprise me at all. Remember that it is good to sit back and observe at times, but not always. Never be afraid to take the initiative, to offer a well thought out opinion or to step outside your comfort zone. We are all uncomfortable in our skins at times, but often it’s how you ‘act’ that counts.
Never compromise your principles. Listen. Receive all well intended advice with good grace and carry out lawful orders to the best of your ability; be tenacious; do not tolerate bullying; support those who may be struggling as best you can and remember, always, always lead by example.
Look after your body. Keep yourself physically and emotionally fit, for if you don’t do this then life can be tough. Enjoy a beer, but know when to stop. Laugh and joke but do so thoughtfuly and never be vindictive. Remember that life should be fun, but have the wisdom to know when to stop and to be serious.
Your positive energy and sense of humour will be essential morale boosters when times are tough, when you and your mates are ‘up against it’ whatever ‘it’ may be (and make no mistake, there will be tough times)
Forgive me if I shed a tear at your passing out parade. It’s perfectly normal, if indeed probably slightly embarrassing for you, but then what’s the point of being a dad if you cannot occasionally embarrass your children?
The love of a parent for their child, from my perspective and from the perspective of the majority of loving parents, is a truly tangible and occasionally a frightening emotion. In extremis I would die for you and all of your siblings (and I do not state that lightly). You will only truly understand that statement and by association me, if one day you are fortunate enough to have children of your own.
I love you unconditionally.
I’ll leave you with probably the one and only piece of Latin that we both understand.
‘Per ardua ad astra’
Good luck son.
© Oldmansballs 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file