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