Friday, 28 September 2012

05. For Dad

Dear Dad,

It would have been your 78th birthday today but instead of celebrating with you, this year we celebrate in your honour.

Cancer took my dad the fortnight before Christmas, 2011. We are going through our year of firsts. Last Christmas we were too shell-shocked to contemplate that it was the first we’d have without him. In the months since we’ve had special occasions, Father’s Day and now his birthday without his physical presence.

I know how lucky we are to have had as much time with him as we did. How blessed that ours was a man who loved his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren with his heart and soul. The biggest honour he gave us was the fact that he adored our mother and worshipped the ground she walked on. Ours was a happy childhood because of him. He wasn’t perfect but in my opinion, he was pretty darn close.

So today, we gathered at my home, watched the little ones play and basked in the feeling that somewhere, somehow, Dad was with us in spirit. We knew the warmth of his larrikin grin, felt the echo of his joy and laughter, and remembered how much he loved us and how beloved he was in return.

What does this have to do with my writing? This is the man who showed me what true love is, proved that it does exist. Maybe not in that traditional ‘happily ever after’ Disney-type fairy tales we grew up with (thank goodness we’re not expected to sit around waiting to be rescued anymore, right girls?) but thanks to my upbringing, I know two people can grow old together and have as much love in their twilight years as they did when they first met. He allowed my mother to be who she wanted to be, supported her in her endeavours and kept her grounded. I don’t think we realised just how much until after he’d gone.

His stories of life in the country, of pranks and adventures filled my childhood. My love of books evolved because of him. When I’m writing romantic characters, he is the ideal they must live up to; he is the reality that I want to impart. I’m not talking father figures here. I’m talking real men with real feelings and the ability to love their partner beyond measure. And regardless of gender and preference, don’t we all deserve a love like that?

Happy Birthday Dad! xxoo

Saturday, 15 September 2012

04. A Stumble Down Memory Lane

For nostalgia’s sake, my oldest child and I watched a movie I adored in my teens. Cue awesome 80’s music, some wild hairstyles, severe ocular pain thanks to the fashion of the day and the smiling face of one of my all-time crushes. (Two really, but one actor was playing the bad guy and he wasn’t his usual handsome self.) Sounds blissful, doesn’t it?

I don’t remember the movie being that – well, bad. The story line was cheesy, the dialogue cringe worthy at times and I just couldn’t recapture the magic I was so certain existed. The look on my daughter’s face spoke volumes as she gazed at me. While not quite game to voice her objections, I could tell she thought I’d taken a one way trip to Loonyville. And a first class ticket at that.

Movies - the ones that left you with the sensation of loss and even in tears because it’s (a) over (b) not real (c) made you long to be one of the characters and in my case (d) wishing you’d written it are always going to be on my ‘must see again’ list. No matter how much I enjoy a movie though, I find they are rarely better than the sensation of losing one’s self in a book.

My failure at passing on the nostalgia of this particular movie didn’t repeat itself in the handing down of a book. The Narnia Chronicles for example, have found a home on my daughter’s bookshelf. Indeed, she has several titles that I treasured in my youth. When I have time, I reread them. In an instant, I find myself transported to that particular world of magic, suspended disbelief and the longing for it to be real, just as I did when I was her age.

So much of that magic has stayed with me when it comes to books. There are novels in my collection now that I greet as old friends. How easy it is to slip between the pages and allow them to transport me into their reality with never a doubt that I might be disappointed or that my memory is playing tricks on me. A few movies rekindle that passion for me but as much as I enjoy them, a movie will never replace a book in my heart.

Oh, and that youthful crush – I saw him in a mini-series a couple of years ago. I waited patiently for that old magic to hit me. His character was mature, serious and unflappable, the complete opposite from the movie in which I’d seen him. All of a sudden, he smiled, and I fell hopelessly in love with him all over again. One day there’s going to be a character in one of my books with a smile just like that. :)