It’s my dad’s 73rd birthday today. Wow, where have the years gone?
I thought I’d mark the occasion with a photo from the olden days, when he was a studly twenty-something and I was a chubby little beach cherub.
My dad was pretty cool when I was a kid. He’d play endless games of Monopoly, Scrabble and card games with us. When my grandmother bought me a little plastic roulette wheel (ah, the toys they thought were “appropriate” back then) he’d rub his hands together with glee at how “lucky” I was and wonder how he could sneak me into an illegal gambling den to make our fortune.
School holidays were filled with canoeing, bike rides, trips to the beach and park.
Dad always said how thrilled he was to have daughters. And he was more worried about my shyness holding me back in life than my gender. I grew up firmly believing the world was my oyster, that I could be anything I wanted to be … if I could just get past my terror.
Sure, we had our moments, like when he tore my beloved RAM magazine in two because it had rude words in it. Oh, there were tears that night. But then he’d make it up to me by haggling with scalpers outside Split Enz concerts and buying us both tickets, then chaperoning 14-year-old me into the venues.
And there was that awkward moment at my 21st when he gave a shades of Four Wedding And A Funeral speech, reminiscing about all the odd-bods I’d known … many of whom were in attendance …
He wasn’t too keen on Husband when he first met him. But then standing beneath what he thought was my bedroom window, throwing stones at it and drunkenly swaying (when it was actually my father’s window) perhaps wasn’t the best introduction. Husband fortunately became all fine and upstanding as the years passed and all was forgiven.
Dad has been the most brilliant grandfather. When my nephew was nine-months old, he started catching the train from Newcastle to Sydney every Thursday to babysit him. Once all the grandkids were at the same school he’d be standing at the gates every Thursday afternoon to pick them up, play with them, cook their dinner, while he waited for my sister and I to return from work.
These days the weekly trip is a bit much for him. But he still comes to Sydney every few weeks with my mum to watch footy matches, netball games, dance recitals. And he still knows how to rough-house with the best of them … though I wince for his 73-year-old bones.
Happy birthday Dad – I love you!