There was no such date in the calendar when I was growing up which meant there was no special day to
tell my dear Dad what he meant to me. It doesn’t seem fair, somehow. I am sure I’m not the only one who feels the same way on this day dedicated to Dads everywhere.
Mr B, as regular readers well know, considers Father’s Day is an American import and, as such, ranks far behind Mothering Sunday in significance. I notice, however, that he opened all his cards this morning with expressions of delight. If all
our off-spring took him at his word and let Father’s Day slip past unnoticed and unmarked, I reckon he would feel more than a little bit miffed. He has so far received two phone calls from his brood and I am waiting to see which of the remaining two
phones him during the Brazil - Switzerland match and how he responds to their loving greetings.
But let’s go back to my Dad. I have two First Memories. I
remember being taken by him into the back bedroom to meet my newly born baby sister. I was three and a half. And I remember walking along the street with him holding my hand while I balanced one foot on the pavement and the other in the gutter. That lopsided
walk stays fixed in my memory, close on seventy years later.
I remember that Friday night was always “Surprise Night” for my Little Sister and me.
It was always the same “surprise” - a few sweets and a comic each, Tiny Tears for me and Chicks Own for my sister - but the anticipation, the excitement, the build-up was the same every week. That ability to make even the most mundane event special
is something I will always remember about my Dad - and the one gift I would like so much to have inherited from him.
My Dad worked all the hours under the sun.
Sunday was his one day off - but most Sunday afternoons, he sold ice-cream from a “stop me and buy one” tricycle. When I was in hospital, aged five, having my tonsils removed, my Dad turned up with ice-cream for all the children on the ward. As
you can imagine, he was Everybody’s Hero.
On summer weekends, we would drive to Shoeburyness, near Southend, where the ceremonial setting-up of the
Primus stove, followed by the boiling of the kettle for the first cuppa, always felt like an adventure. On winter Saturday evenings, we knew to keep as quiet as mice while the football results were broadcast over the radio (my sister and I used to try to guess
each score from the intonation of the announcer) and our father checked his Pools coupon. One day, he used to tell us, his boat would come in...
When I passed
the “Scholarship” and found myself bound for Grammar School, my Dad was adamant that I had to start my new adventure feeling confident to face the world. My school uniform, purchased from a specialist outfitters, fitted me perfectly - he refused
point blank for me to wear over-sized clothes which I could “grow into”. I can’t imagine how he paid for that uniform and it was many years later before I really appreciated what he did for me.
We did have some tussles in my teenage years, hardly surprising when I wanted to get married at the age of eighteen and he wanted me to remain his little daughter forever.
But my Dad was not one to risk losing a daughter and we surmounted our differences through his loving persistence and willingness to move on.
He was a loving Grandad
to our Foursome, taking them on many a trip with my dear Mum. He played the piano with the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, for ever exhorting her: “Can you play ‘Far Away’?” She didn’t get the joke for ages. He told all of
his grandchildren other daft jokes which they still recall today. Example: There were two eggs in a pan of boiling water. One said to the other, “Cor, it’s hot in here!” To which the second egg replied: “That’s nothing - wait
till we get out of here, we’ll have our heads bashed in....”
I’m laughing, even as I remember...
Happy Father’s Day, dear Dad, and thanks for the memories.