Father’s Day has come and gone again. My Dear Old Dad has been a father for 61 years now. It would have been 63 but for the death of his and mum’s first child.
For Dad right now, and me, every day is Father’s Day! Sometimes it’s also a bit like Groundhog Day, but the actual Father’s day is special. Being a Sunday, the best gift he can have is to have me join him at church, followed by morning tea with his friends there. He joined us for dinner so we could also celebrate Father’s day with my husband and children.
I am conscious that at my age, I have many friends who are now without their fathers, or who do not have a good relationship with their father, and Father’s Day must be difficult. and I will be one of those people one day, which while inevitable, makes me feel very sad. I can’t imagine a world without him in it.
Father’s Day makes me ponder what it is to be a father. My favourite quote is from someone tragically named Wade Boggs, who, it seems to me was destined for a job as a plumber, but was in fact a famous baseball player. He once said “Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a Dad”. And my Dad is a special person.
We didn’t realise it at the time, but we grew up in a very forward thinking environment. Workplace flexibility and working from home are buzz words in the workplaces of today, but with a parish priest for a father, our Dad had his office at home. He worked from home (although was often out of course), but of the many childhood memories I have, sometimes having afternoon tea with Mum and Dad after school, or having Dad pick us up from school, are highlights.
Of course having a father at home meant that our mother didn’t ever have to say “wait until your father gets home”, and I knew I was in trouble when I was summoned to Dad’s study. The worst punishment was being told by Dad that he was disappointed in me. I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
Going away for weekends was something we did not do, with church services on Sundays. But when we went on holidays, Dad was really on holidays. We grew up with no mobile phones or internet, so our holidays involved visiting with cousins, going to the beach, and once, what seemed like an interminable caravan holiday (scarred me for life). But holidays always included cards, board games, and french cricket. And lots of laughter.
Now that Dad is 95, who knows how many Father’s Days we have left. So we must treasure every moment, even when it is upsetting or stressful, caring for him. I have to remind myself that no matter how hard it is for me (and my sister) from time to time, it must be so much harder for him, becoming frail and dependent. I think Dad would agree with Euripides (Greek poet, not a plumber nor a baseball player) that:
“To a father growing old, nothing is dearer than a daughter”