A tribute to my father, Peter Allan Hutchinson
Peter's schoolbook collection
My father, Peter, was born in 1935, just before the Second World War.
He experienced many barriers to education, the biggest one being that he was needed at home to do chores and fix anything that may break.
He was the man of the house during his father’s absence. His mother’s incapacity to cope during wartime put the onus on him.
Upon his father’s return from war, addiction prevented him from providing a safe home for the family, so young Peter, by default, maintained his role as keeper of the house.
There were several houses during Peter’s childhood. There was no place to call home. His father’s alcoholism contributed to several evictions, violence, and poverty.
Peter did go to school, but his time in the classroom was sparse. Following a visit by the truant officer, he returned to school, but another move sent him off the academic radar.
A deep hunger for knowledge and a sense of curiosity led to stealing books and reading them in the outhouse.
Of the seven types of intelligence, my father was self-smart. His best thinking and learning happened when he was alone, reading and reflecting on himself and others.
He devised solutions through exploration and discipline, practicality, and analytical and critical thinking.
Peter’s primary directive was his internal guidance system. And this he used consistently throughout his life.
A self-educated man who became well-versed in many subjects became a lifelong learner.
In his 80’ Peter decided to pick up where he left off in school and started a collection of textbooks dating back to his schooldays.
These books were one of his greatest joys.
Eventually, death allowed him to attend university because his remains were donated to the Human Donation Program at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, where he arrived as the teacher and not the student.
He left this world on his own terms, with nothing undone and always the teacher.
The lesson here is that it is never too late to do anything you want to do!
Angela McMullen is a poet, forest writing workshop facilitator and freelance writer who lives and writes in maritime Nova Scotia, where she is inspired by the rhythm of the Bay of Fundy tides, the pulse of long-standing forests, the expansive fields of the Annapolis Valley, the backdrop of North and South mountain ranges, and the distinction of the four seasons.
Angela's most recent work is a slim book of poetry that captures the pure essence of nature and her unwavering resilience. Infused with undertones of Italian influence, this collection of poetry speaks for itself.