by Ariel Beynon
Interaction between loved ones—between a father and a son for example—are always a part of growing up, something that Bill Gaston tackles in his autobiographical book, Just Let Me Look at You, a successful attempt to tell the story of his father’s upbringing that he never heard as a child.
The reading he gives starts off with descriptions of him fishing with his father, going out of Winnipeg because of the lack of good spots to wait for the fish to bite. Running through all of this is a common thread; what do we do when we can’t understand our fathers? For Bill Gaston it was his inability as a child and then as a teen to comprehend why his father began to drink.
Acknowledging the complexity and duality in the relationship between father and son, he mentions that “at sixteen he filled me with disgust—falling down drunk in the street. I watched the fall of my hero and hated him for failing me. It was only till later that I was able to understand what he had gone through and that understanding allowed me to forgive him”. Switching perspectives, he wonders why his father wasn’t ready to share his past with him, why when he got into a car accident he lied about alcohol being involved. Did he not want his son to think poorly of him?
Any good story leaves you with more to think about, asks you to reconsider your beliefs and convictions. By digging into a subject that is such an essential aspect of living, Bill Gaston invites us to do the same when it comes to our fathers and us.
From ‘Big Ideas: Fathers and Sons’ with Bill Gaston on September 25, 2018.