I share quite a lot with my Dad. My birthday of course. Along with the Bean nose and the ability to wiggle my ears. It’s quite a party trick but a bit more of his sense of logic would be more beneficial.
So it’s father’s day today and I want to write something. And not just because I didn’t get the card in the post in time. Because it’s a good time to say thank you. I should say it more often.
I remember the day my Dad grew a beard. I remember it clearly because it was bristly when he kissed me. And I was about six and didn’t like change. Of course now I have no idea what he looks like without one. People say I look like him. Before the beard obviously.
Growing up he was everything I needed him to be. He was and still is my problem solver. And if he couldn’t solve it using logic and experience he bought a book about it. He was the pre-1990s embodiment of Googling. It wasn’t as immediate an answer but it was usually more reliable than wikipedia.
My brother and I had a turbulent relationship as pre-teens and teenagers. Dad stepped in on numerous occasions to help solve our arguments. He once made us write a contract to ensure we didn’t go into each other’s room, and he helped my brother make a pressure sensitive electronic burglar alarm. That makes it sound like it was definitely me that was a nightmare, but I was training to be a spy at the time and I’m fairly confident he had actually bought me the book (A Spy’s Guidebook).
I spent a lot of time in my childhood complaining I couldn’t sleep. My Dad let me sleep on the floor, or the wrong way up. He once made me a tunnel tent by tucking a sheet over my 1980s padded headboard. The man was a saint.
We had wonderful experience filled holidays and days out. On our numerous walks in the woods and bracken whoever was with Dad always lagged behind because he was showing us how to drink nettle flower juice or looking at toadstools. Which was ironic because when we got lost we always expected him to go in front and walk very quickly to get the car and bring it to us. You see, problem solver. Even if it was our suggestion.
As I got older he became my personal taxi driver and later my handyman. He must have put the same shelves up at least five times.
He tried to prepare me for life. He did the lions share of teaching me and my brother to drive. He must have nerves of steel.
Before I went to university he showed me how to change a tyre. In twenty years I’ve only needed that information once, and on that occasion I thought I’d run out of petrol, drove on the rims and then got a man in the garage to change the tyre. Which is only a reflection on me, not Dad’s teaching ability.
I drive him a bit mad sometimes I’m sure. My grasp of money is dubious despite his best accountant attempts at helping me. He is clever and thorough and logical. I am clever and emotional and more than occasionally overwhelmed by stuff. But I have never doubted for one moment that he is proud of me. I know without doubt he didn’t need to look up how to do that. That’s pure sheer natural Dadness.
Now I see him with my girls and things have changed a little. He still solves problems but due to Grandad status now spends much more time making up stories about hairdressing and discussing Swallows and Amazons. He is immensely popular and to quote Phoebe “he’s old but he’s still really fun”. I need to teach that girl some tact.
A few years ago things got hard and Dad was ill. It was tough for him, and for us all of course. Thank goodness he is now well and still cluttering up my living room with the Guardian, rejecting French beans and matching me biscuit for biscuit when he visits.
So thank you Dad. For being marvellous up until now and for the marvellousness that is yet to come.