Father's Day is celebrated tomorrow, June 17th in the UK, SA, USA and Canada. For me, it's one of those bitter-sweet days, because I'll only get to speak to my dad over Skype. While it's way, way better than using the phone, or worse, not being able to speak to him at all, I'm always left wishing I could reach through the screen and hug him. I miss him terribly.
Dad and I have always been close. My mom likes to tell the story of what happened at the hospital when I was born.
Nurse : "I'm going to give her to the parent she'll take after."
Mom : (anticipating, stretches out arms)
Nurse hands me to dad.
Nurse: "Trust me."
Mom: "Oh, dear." (Covers eyes) "Oh, god. Why?" Mom wanted a girlie-girl. Trust me, anyone taking after dad is NOT going to fall into that category. Sorry, ma. But it does explain the tree-climbing, animal-loving adrenaline-junkie side of me, and the utter refusal to be stuck in pink frilly dresses.
Dad: "She's beautiful!"
At this moment in the story, my mom usually stops, arches one eye-brow, and clears her throat. "That nurse was so right."
One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my bed clutching Peter the bear, (who was loved for years and terribly mourned when his stuffing fell out) while dad sat next to me, big hands guiding mine across the words on the page of a new book. Dad taught me how to read before I ever stepped foot in a classroom, determined that I wouldn't struggle the way he did.
I remember him drawing a cartoon dog for me, over and over. I thought it was pure magic, that a few quick strokes of a pen suddenly evolved into this happy, smiley dog with slobbery lips and a cocked ear. He never said he was too busy to do it, either, and every time he drew it I felt warm and loved and knew I had the best daddy on the planet.
Dad showed me how to kick a football, bath the dogs, change a light bulb and where the Southern Cross sits in the African night sky. He taught me that originality is better than following the beaten path, that laughter is better than tears, and he never stopped believing in me, even when I turned into the Teenager From Hell and gave that girl from The Exorcist a run for her money. He taught me ethics, and blunt honesty (sometimes a little too blunt, so diplomacy has been a late-learned skill of mine), and that there is beauty in mundane things we often overlook.
He still teaches me, by example, to live life : the day before his 70th birthday party, he hopped on the back of my brother's motorbike and went on an hour ride through Glasgow. He has never entered a swimming pool using the steps, preferring to jump, and he gets up most mornings between 5:30a.m. and 6. (On holiday in Australia he slept in until 7:30, and was horrified.)
|Dad getting kitted out for his bike ride.|
He can be infuriatingly stubborn, another trait I definitely got from him; it took three years or so before he admitted he needed a hearing aid. He took an unseemly delight in terrorising new boyfriends and first dates; he did the typical father-interrogation with such glee it was hard to stay mad at him for long, especially since he'd head straight to the kitchen afterwards and giggle to himself.
He has a strongly defined sense of personal honour and justice, and is known to colleagues (yep, he still works part-time - retirement nearly drove both my folks up the wall) for his work ethic. Overall, telling me I'm just like my dad is one of the biggest compliments you can give me.
So tomorrow, I get to realise - again - just how lucky I was to have this man as my dad. How utterly blessed I am in my family.
Happy Father's Day, daddy. I love you.