The Ties That Bind – Episode 29

Characters from the serial, Evelyn and Simon

“Hi, Dad – check you, going all modern!”

Phil gave a rusty smile as Janie’s face laughed at him from his phone screen.

“Dan’s fixed me up with this WhatsApp thing, so I’m giving it a trial run.”

“I see – so it’s not that you wanted to see me? Thanks a bunch!”

“No, of course not – I mean, yes, it’s good to see you, Janie.”

Phil’s words were as big a surprise to himself as to his daughter.

It had been a long time since he’d thought of anything in a positive way.

Having Dan staying with him was obviously helping.

Whatever the reason, it gave him the courage he needed to explain the reason for his call.

“Actually, I wanted to ask you something, Janie.

“You seem to know a lot about new courses and things. I was just wondering if . . .” He felt unexpectedly bashful.

“What is it, Dad?”

“Well, you might not have realised it, Janie, but I haven’t been happy at work for – well, for years.”

“Oh, Dad. Why didn’t you look for something else?”

He sighed.

“It wasn’t always easy back in the day. And I was scared.

“I’d never had another job – I didn’t really know if I could do anything else, and I had responsibilities. A mortgage. Family.”

Janie was silent.

“I never told anyone how I was feeling – not even your mum, which I can see now was a mistake.”

Phil realised his hands were trembling a little.

“Anyway, that’s what’s been building up inside me. I was scared of redundancy; I was scared to try anything else.

“I was scared of just about everything,” he admitted.

“Oh, Dad, that’s terrible.”

“I was wondering if there was anywhere I could go to try to find something else, but I thought I’d left it too late.

“I thought I was only fit for the scrap heap.” Phil’s voice dropped miserably.

“Rubbish,” Janie replied. “Dad, there are places you can go to. Plenty of places with advice about changing careers. Loads of people do it.”

“Not just for young people?” His anxiety was returning. “At my age . . .”

“Not at all. People are changing careers all the time these days,” she said soothingly.

“It’s not like it was in your day, when you had to get a job as soon as you left school and stick with the same company for the rest of your life,” she added.

“It’s different now – we live in different times.”

“You make it sound like I grew up in the Dark Ages.” Phil laughed.

“Well, you did, a bit,” she retorted. “Anyway, we’ve been looking at stuff like this on my course.

“I’ll send some links and you can look up information about retraining – if you can work the technology, that is.”

She grinned.

“Cheek!” Laughter bubbled up unexpectedly inside him. “Thanks, Janie.”

“I’m glad I can help. I’ll get on to it right away.”

She paused.

“How are you, Dad? Are you feeling any better? Dan told me you’ve been quite down.”

“I have good days and bad,” Phil replied shakily.

“We all have them,” Janie said gently.

It crossed Phil’s foggy mind that she sounded just like her mother and it triggered a vague memory.

He recalled something about a row between Janie and Evelyn.

Somewhere deep inside, he felt a glimmer which had been missing for so long. A sense of purpose, of having something to care about.

A sense of being needed.

He knew better than to tackle Janie head on.

“I’ve been to a few therapy sessions which helped,” he said. “I should have gone before I did. It’s good to talk to someone.”

“That’s great.”

“The doctor put me in touch with a few activities at the clinic, too.

“I didn’t want to go at first, but it’s helped me realise that I’m not the only one feeling the way I am.”

“Of course you’re not.”

“I think it’s helping me to focus, too,” Phil went on. “It’s not easy, but I’m doing my best.

“I’ve been drifting too much lately. I’m trying to face up to things instead.”

“What sort of things?”

Phil took a deep breath.

To be continued…

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