Coronavirus: Boy yearns to see seaman dad moored outside house

By Angie Brown
BBC Scotland News

Euan GordonImage source, Seonaid Russell

A mother has told of the heartbreak of seeing her four-year-old son waving to his father who is unable to get off his ship when it is moored outside their house during the coronavirus lockdown.

Seonaid Russell, 34, said it was "tough" to watch her son Euan yearn to see his bosun father when he was just 100 metres from their house in Oban.

The family live in a cabin which overlooks the town's port.

Alasdair Gordon, 41, is in charge of the deck on the Pharos.

The ship is responsible for the operation of Scottish lighthouses.

Since the lockdown, Alasdair and his crew have been instructed to stay on the ship when it is tied up in the dock.

It has meant that when he is moored outside his own house he is not allowed to spend the night with his family as he usually would do.

Image source, Seonaid Russell
Image caption,
Seonaid said her son had shown great strength throughout the lockdown

Seonaid said: "His boat this week was back on Wednesday and it leaves on Monday, so that would have been five nights he would have been with us.

"Seeing him from the window is really hard as he's so near but yet so far.

"It was disheartening when I realised this was the position we were going to be in during the lockdown.

"Euan shouts 'dad' from the garden and balcony and waves and Alasdair can hear him and waves back, but he's not allowed to shout back.

"Euan can see him waving and runs into the kitchen and tells me 'dad's waving' and tells me to come and see, it's the highlight of his day."

Seonaid, an NHS infant feeding support worker, said she was used to her partner being away at sea, but had found it difficult during the lockdown.

She said she worried about her son being affected by not being able to see his father when he knew he was so close.

She said: "It's a difficult thing. I've tried to keep upbeat in the hope it rubs off on to Euan.

"At the age of four the sense of loss can be overwhelming. I want to minimise that and try to make it as normal as possible for him by being honest that it will be a while before dad is back, but the feeling of sadness and loss will pass.

"We talk about it a lot and I explain to him in very basic terms, using words he understands, that germs mean dad has to stay on the boat and he understands."

Image source, Seonaid Russell
Image caption,
Euan Gordon is just metres away from his dad's ship when it is moored near the edge of his garden

Seonaid, who is pregnant with their second child, said: "Euan always wants to get a closer look at his dad so we go to the edge of the garden to get a better look. The gates are closed so we can't go right up to the ship but it is close and Euan gets very excited about our daily trips there to the edge of our garden to see his dad.

"He says he is missing his dad but I'm astounded at how well he is coping with it and his strength at such a young age.

"I'm very thankful about this because the sense of loss for a four year old can be massive and hard to get your head around especially when you know your dad is so close."

Alasdair said: "I find it quite frustrating, but I have to try and put it out of my mind and try to be professional about my work.

"It is quite difficult being so close to home but not able to go over there, especially when I can see them both and I can hear Euan shouting in the garden.

"It would be better to be out at sea, away from the town."

Image source, Alasdair Gordon
Image caption,
Alasdair's view from the boat with his mother-in-law's house on the left and his cabin on the right
Image source, Seonaid Russell
Image caption,
Alasdair Gordon with his son Euan before the lockdown

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