It was Dad’s 80th celebration on Saturday – a month late, it’s true, but it had been postponed as he had a fall which put him in hospital just before his birthday.
2020 was a terrible year for Dad – up til then he was hale and hearty! He slipped over on a wet, steep driveway and broke his ankle. As it needed surgery, he was taken off his blood thinners – and he had another stroke which meant months in rehab during the height of Covid. Later the same year, he had a bleed on the brain and we very nearly lost him. This has left him with a cognitive impairment, very limited speech, and severely impacted his mobility – he is no longer able to drive, or sail his beloved boat 🙁 .
Despite these challenges, my stepmum takes wonderful care of him and helps him enjoy life as much as possible. The party on Saturday was a credit to my stepmum, although I created the slideshow and made a speech, both of which I’m sharing here today. I’m just so glad we got to do both for Dad now, rather than at a funeral. Putting both together was a real labour of love – I hope you enjoy them too!
What can I say about the man that I call Dad? I thought I’d share some random memories …
I remember Dad laying concrete for our bins to sit on, and my little sisters and I making footprints for posterity (I wonder if they’re still there?!).
I remember Dad doing yard work on the weekends, and giving us rides in the wheelbarrow.
I remember Dad helping me to prepare a lecturette for school, about an antique clock that was a family heirloom.
Dad used to get the train home from work, and would walk up our street right on ten to six each night. We would run up the street to meet him, and he was probably touched to think that we looked forward to his return so much. The reality was that Dad has always hated what he called trashy American TV shows, like The Brady Bunch and Bewitched, which we loved. They screened at 5.30pm on weekdays, so we would watch, taking turns to be the lookout posted on the front verandah. At the first sighting of Dad the TV would be promptly switched to the ABC. Sorry to disillusion you Dad!
Speaking of TV, one of my other fondest memories was doing the washing up with Dad. Being the eldest, I was allowed to stay up that little bit later as long as I helped by wiping up. We had a little black and white TV on the kitchen counter and would watch the ABC – Four Corners I think it was – and chat.
After our parents separated, we saw Dad every second Saturday. It must have been hard to find fun activities for four kids with a wide spread of ages – there’s 8 ½ years between myself and Alan. Two of our favourites were going to the council pool in Summer; or roller skating at Stafford.
I remember all four of us kids squished into the back seat of his Ford Cortina – he must have got sick of the fighting and cries of “Dad, she touched me!”. (Obviously the laws were very different back then!)
Dad and my stepmum have always been into healthy food, and we would often go on picnics where we had sandwiches on multigrain bread, and fruit – much to our disgust. We would have much preferred takeaway!
Back when the husbear and I wanted to get married, Dad was the opposite of everybody else’s parents (remember this was a different generation) – he wanted to know why we couldn’t just live together?! Being typical young people, we ignored him and did our own thing.
A few years later I was able to give him a truly memorable birthday present – our son, the first grandchild, was born on his 51st birthday! I don’t think my Mum ever really forgave me for that. But what was I supposed to do, cross my legs for three hours until the next day?!
They say that girls marry a man like their father, and it is true that my husband and Dad have a lot in common. I remember back in the days when we still had a home phone (remember them?!). Dad would ring and the husbear would chat to him for ages … I’d be waiting for my turn, but then they’d hang up. No, he didn’t need to talk to me, his daughter! I joked that I’d married my Dad’s best friend.
Our relationship had its challenges, especially after my parents separated, but one thing I always knew – that my Dad was proud of me. And that’s one of the best feelings in the whole world.
So happy birthday Dad and many happy returns!