Fathers. Our own is simply a given of our very existence, the fathers of our children we have (often, though not always) chosen, and they in turn come with fathers of their own. Then there are the fathers of our friends, of our children’s friends, of nephews and nieces….. the list could go on but suffice to say that we are surrounded by them.
I have inarguably been extremely fortunate in the fatherhood stakes.
My own father, born during the Second World War, had a challenging childhood as so many of those times did. I think it’s fair to say that his own parents marriage was not what either of them expected or hoped for, but they nevertheless were able to love him, encourage him and share his life with pride.
With four daughters it has sometimes been hard to know whether Dad is genuinely a more natural observer and listener or whether he simply couldn’t get a word in edgeways – a little of both I guess. He has been a wonderfully kind, loving, generous and supportive father to me and my sisters. He is reflective, wise, highly pragmatic, open minded and happily shares my own feelings on rules, regulations and instruction manuals! He was my first boss (yes, nepotism at its best!) and taught me how to write a decent letter, to feel comfortable speaking to people from all walks of life with respect, and that working in an office was probably not the life for me.
He has always loved a party and in his younger days was well known for his antics. Enjoying the element of surprise he had quite a penchant for diving into the swimming pool fully clothed in my childhood! Despite being the son of a Methodist minister and hating swimming at school, on buying a small cottage with a big garden my father could think of nothing better than building a swimming pool to keep us all entertained in a small village. He was right and we all share many wonderful memories of happy times in its chlorinated, occasionally algae ridden waters.
It may have been his sense of humour that resulted in the events that M was subjected to on his first Sunday lunch at the family home. A late winter’s afternoon saw us sitting by the fire after a delicious roast, papers on our laps and dogs gently toasting themselves in front of the fire. Dad is a great believer though that people like something ‘to do’ and suggested M might like to assist him with a little algae cleaning in the pool. Being in the early days of our relationship M readily agreed. What he had not bargained for was that he would be required to dive down to the bottom of the pool repeatedly to scrub away the sinister green slime wearing scratchy wool socks on his hands for the purpose!! This would have been amusing in itself, but not having planned to swim he was unprepared in the wardrobe stakes. Not to be deterred in his mission my father (many waist sizes larger) lent him a pair of trunks which despite adjustments were left upon the water’s surface on the first dive…. M indubitably earned his place in our family that day!
M himself grew up sailing and is highly enthusiastic about mountain biking, shooting, land rovers, power tools, lawn mowers, rugby, beer, wine and action movies. We however have been blessed with two daughters who between them have been/are passionate about ballet, dance, drama, playing music, make up, musical theatre, rom coms and sit coms (notably Friends!) and will choose chocolate over alcohol on most occasions!
M’s adoration of and devotion to the girls has seen him change both their first (and many subsequent) nappies, to happily spend hours on the floor playing babies, Barbies, playmobil and even painting (inarguably grim with small children!). He has been to every dance recital and drama performance that he has been able to, willingly driven them to multitudinous activities and parties and worked so hard to be able to pay for it all. He is a truly wonderful father and I thank my lucky stars that I chose him.
But it’s not just luck is it? For this post would be incomplete without including my father in law. M undoubtedly emulated his own father’s work ethic, moral code and great kindness. My father in law’s thoughtfulness, faith, evident love of my mother in law and their children, his generosity of time, effort and resources has been another shining example of fatherhood.
So, while I am very aware that this is not everyone’s story or experience of fatherhood I very much wanted to write these words in celebration of all the great Dads out there, but most specifically the ones in my life. Xx