I hope you’re well.
Now this episode is a bit of a special one. It’s the 100th episode so I thought I’d do something a bit different. It’s my dad’s 80th birthday and I started writing him a letter the other day to try to express how grateful I was for some of the things I remember. Yet, I found the process really quite thought provoking, so I wanted to share it with you.
It’s your birthday today and although we’re not together, you always feel really close to me.
I often recall our time spent together as I was growing up. I guess I thought it would last forever and it didn’t occur to me at the time on that day as I left for uni that I was actually leaving home for good.
I think words struggle to express the gratitude a child owes to his or her parent. However, I wanted to let you know that I have so many happy memories of growing up and am grateful for all that you have done for me and my sister.
I remember you holding onto my bike as I was learning to ride in the park and then letting go at just the right moment when I could balance enough for those first few exhilarating metres of freedom. I also remember, probably a few months later, you racing down the steepest hill in town behind me when my brakes were failing and taking hold of my handlebars to help me avert disaster
Thank you for fixing my punctured tyres, as well as all the other kids’ punctures in the street.
The way you toiled for hours one fathers day when other dads were relaxing, you helped build a massive cubby house on the old tree stump.
Building a zip line that became centre stage for all us kids in the street to dance with danger, even if Mark I danced a little too closely to danger.
You showed me how it’s much more exciting to fire fireworks across the ground rather than up in the air.
How not to burn out a wasps’ nest with petrol.
I was so impressed when you spent weeks converting an old Ford Transit ambulance into a campervan but it was when you and I went to pick up the old ambulance together that I enjoyed most.
Love, I’ve heard it said is spelt by children ‘T-I-M-E’ and it was the time that you and I spent together that I cherish the most.
The time when you let me ‘help’ you do jobs around the house and garden. I know now that you could have gotten those jobs done a lot quicker on your own but it meant so much to me to be by your side.
The time that we’d spend on camping holidays, just walking to the camp shop for a bottle of milk and a newspaper. Or just walking up from the beach to buy some frothy coffees to take back. Those quiet times may not have seemed like much to you, but they meant the world to me. I was spending time with my dad.
Taking me to athletic meets or racing radio control cars every Tuesday night at the school hall.
How you spent hours and probably a fortune in 10ps to win me a digital watch in the shuffling shelf coin drop slot machine.
Even though you bought me my first car, it was our road-trip to Wales to look at buying a beat up combi that I remember the most. Especially when the rusty door slid off as I opened it. It needed more than a bit of welding.
And now I am a father as well, I know it can’t have been easy for you. The tension between balancing the need to work to put bread on the table with the desire to spend time with your family.
I now try to imagine the trade-offs you had to make. It must have burned to see us head away on summer holidays while you had to stay home to work.
You gave me the mindset that things can and should be fixed. You taught me to drive, and then how to shake things up in snow and mud.
The Swiss Army knife you gave me is still one of my favourite possessions. The way is can fix almost anything reminds me of you.
I’ve learnt so much from you, but most of all, how important it is to be a dad.
Thanks for holding on, and for letting go.
I see you dad, I’m proud of you and I love you.