An ode to my Dad on Fathers Day

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An ode to my Dad on Fathers Day

How do you thank someone for giving you life and then teaching you how to make the most of it?

I must admit, I am a little sad this Fathers Day. Not a lot sad, mind you, just a little.

My Dad is really the inspiration for the list of Top 30 things to try before I’m 30. There’s nothing like a good old case of the Big C’s to get you appreciating life, and that’s exactly what happened to my Dad (and my family) all through last year and the better part of this year. It’s a little reminder of the “bucket” part of the term “bucket list” I guess. A gentle nudge to appreciate the things you have before they’re gone.

Anyway, that’s why I’m just a little sad today. I’m a little sad because I just got off a Skype chat with both of my parents who are currently in France living life to the fullest, and I’ve realised that I’m missing them a lot. I’m only a little bit sad because the all-too-real alternative could have been so much worse.

My Dad really is one of those rare gems. The kind who worked his butt off to put food on the table and then came home on the weekend to perform magic shows for his son’s birthday. The kind who would come home from work with Freddo Frogs hidden in his pockets for his children to find. The kind who would pick you and all your friends up from a movie marathon at 6 in the morning without the slightest hint of grumpiness while all of the other parents were still tucked up warm in their beds. The kind who would make treasure hunts complete with maps and buried treasure. The kind that would build cubby houses, forts and dollhouses from scratch.

Perhaps your Dad would do all of these things too (and I hope he did or, if not, something similar in his own take on awesome dadness). The amazing part is that my Dad never really had a Dad of his own to teach him how to be that awesome. He just seemed to manage it all on his own! His Dad died when he was very young, and now that his mother has also passed away we can only speculate about what a beautiful, loving man he must have been to have passed on all of these traits in a few short years (traits my Dad has now passed on to my older brother, who celebrated his first Fathers Day today).

He must have picked up one or two tricks from my Mum’s Dad I guess (better known as ‘Grandad’). My parents were 16 when they met on a blind date so I suppose Grandad became a bit of a surrogate father. What my Dad didn’t already know about silliness he must have learned from Grandad. Now that my Dad is a Grandad too, I suppose he is taking a leaf out of my Grandad’s book (at least, I hope so). I was only 10 when my Grandad passed away but I was old enough to know that he was up there with the best of them! He pulled coins out of our ears and wiggled his dentures just for us kids (even though he was embarrassed to do it in front of anyone else). I remember distinctly my Grandad telling me the following joke when I turned 8:

“The cannibals daughter was 8 before she was 7”.

I had no idea what he was talking about at the time. Frankly, for years I thought he’d said “The cannon ball’s daughter…” Suffice it so say I was mighty confused, and it wasn’t until years later, probably after he was already gone, that it twigged. As you can imagine, my memories of my Grandad are not so clear these days, so the few I do have are greatly cherished (not in the least the memory of hugging him goodnight the night before he died. I recall the family was sitting around my aunty’s overly-extended dining table playing some game or other. As we do).

These days, as many of you know, I work for my Dad. I couldn’t imagine a better boss and it’s not because I get the “favourite” treatment. He is kind and fair and always has the best interests of others at heart. As an adult educator he has literally spent his entire career finding ways to help people better themselves and advance their own careers. In this way I suppose he has been a father figure to many more than the 4 children who are lucky enough to share his DNA.

I think it’s safe to say that cancer is the worst, but I have to be grateful for the fact that it has brought our family much closer together, which is a pretty mean feat since I don’t know many families who were that close to begin with. I’ve often had people say to me that they wish their family was as close as mine. I suppose that’s partly because we get together at family functions and play board games instead of sitting around the table staring awkwardly at each other. Then again, it may also be because when we’ve been known to not only play board games, but invent board games from scratch to play together.

I really do believe the adage that “A family that plays together stays together” and I’d recommend such ridiculous antics to anyone looking to spice up their next family gathering. I only hope for your sake that your family does not share a similar competitive streak!

More than this, though, cancer has given our family the oportunity to reflect. Both of my grandfathers died in sudden circumstances that prevented their children from asking those burning questions that usually only come to mind when it is too late. In my case, the alarm bells have rung with more than enough time for me to enjoy spending that extra time with my Dad and really getting to know him as a person.

My family has cried enough tears in recent times to fill the oceans that currently separate us, but more importantly, we’ve learned what it means to really live (which is fortunate considering my Dad seems to have divine intervention on his side and, as far as we know, is about ready to outlive us all).

If the whole cancer experience has taught us anything, it’s that it’s one thing to exist, and another thing altogether to really live. For now, Dad has chosen to dash off overseas with my Mum and enjoy some much-needed R&R. I, on the other hand, have chosen to run headfirst into 30 new life experiences.

Again, I ask you, How do you thank someone for giving you life and then teaching you how to make the most of it?

So far the best “Thanks” I’ve seemed to manage is an annual rocky road delivery every Fathers Day. I couldn’t even manage that this year thanks to overzealous customs restrictions.

The recipe has been modified in recent times. Please click for a bowel cancer-friendly recipe for Dad’s Rocky Road (something I had to invent myself when Google failed me for the first time ever – I encourage you to share it around!)

The truth is, there is no way to thank someone for all of this. The religious among us might spend every Sunday giving thanks to their maker. Still, that doesn’t seem enough to me.

The best I can do is to absorb it all and in some small way pay it forward to my own children. I will work hard, do magic tricks, surprise them, delight them, and  build whole buildings just so they can see their name emblazoned across the top. Most of all, I will never, ever complain about picking them up in the middle of the night, no matter what the location, time or weather.

How do you thank someone for giving you life and then teaching you how to make the most of it?

Two words:

Thanks Dad.

Good, bad or super-awesome, if your Dad is still around I urge you to think about what you’d say to him if time were limited – then say it to him!
If not, and you had your time again, what do you wish you could have said?

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24 responses »

  1. Best Father’s Day gift. Beats the rocky road but I lol’d at the last point of the recipe. Thanks Snowdrop. Love you to bits. DDC

  2. I can testify that the one I ate (which I thought was for general consumption )very early on in Amanda’s Rocky Road making saga was awesome but I have never been allowed to eat this concoction since. Grandma

  3. Do you remember the video that was made for your Grandad’s 60th birthday? In it, I said everything that I wanted to say, as did many others. Not knowing that he wouldn’t be around for more than one more birthday, but there are no regrets on that account at least. You make an appearance in it! Maybe we’ll take a look at it when I see you next. x

      • Hmmm no I don’t think so. It must have been his birthday. We were all outside. Maybe the Lang’s old house? Or someone on Grandad’s side of the family?

      • You are thinking of the pre-birthday party for Dad & Nell’s 70th a month or so earlier, which was @ Rosemary’s place @ the time. A large part of a the video was filmed that day. But the surprise & the watching was @ Claremont Meadows in late October. Your memory deceives you, understandable considering that you were eight years old…

      • Lol yes I’m remembering Nell’s – probably because I remember the video – which showed everyone at that house!

        My memory is terrible so I’m not surprised…

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