We are (a new) family

Last night the “new” tribe gathered to celebrate my Dad’s 74th birthday. It was fun having so many lively faces around the table. My sister’s partner brought his daughters and all the kids got along like a house on fire.

I made my usual crowd-pleaser: slow-roasted lamb and salty roast potatoes. I copped out and bought a massive chocolate mousse cake for dessert, with “Happy birthday Pop” written on top. My sister brought liquid refreshments. We all had a laugh.

Husband called amid the cacophony to check if I’d bought a house (I haven’t, but it’s getting down to the wire, so I’ll keep you posted). It felt kinda weird that he’s an outsider now, no longer part of the gang. I wonder if it felt weird to him too?

Ah well, such is life.

I thought I’d belatedly mark Dad’s birthday with some photos of us from the olden days…


And also with this tribute I wrote about him last year:


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 …

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 74-year-old bones. [Mind you, last night he stuck to Hama beading, much less brutal.]

Happy birthday Dad – I love you!

Song of the day: Sister Sledge “We are family”

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