Dad would of been 78 on the 2nd of April this year. I decided to hold back on publishing this, because of all the April 1 stuff on my dash.
But I couldn’t let it pass unmarked. So, below the cut, is everything my father was to me.
I was told I’d have ten minutes to tell everyone about a lifetime with my father. One - that’s clearly impossible. And two - I suck at summaries. How can anyone condense forty-two years into ten minutes? How can I tell you everything that Dad was?
Dad was… comfort and security. I still remember the nightly ritual when I was a little kid. After Mum rubbed his aches down, He’d put on his yellow dressing gown with the black trim and I’d sit in his lap while the television went on, and I’d spend a majority of the cuddle-time methodically picking the pills off. I still remember the strong smell of sarsaparilla and the feel of him through that old dressing gown, and the sense of peace it bought me.
Dad was… in love with mischief. Always the benevolent mischief that caused no lingering harm and even laughter in the people he played with. He would take great delight in noisily trying to blow over my block towers. Or share the summer temperatures with his co-workers in Autopack. Or atrocious puns with… well, just about anyone who shared his air.
Dad was… an opportunist. He taught me the real meaning behind the phrase “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” by bringing home factory rejects or giant bags of discontinued product. It was like Christmas, back then, to see him coming in with an enormous plastic bag or a big box of cheap plastic treasure. And I learned that if they’re throwing it out - they’re also giving it away for free… so you might as well help yourself.
Dad was… a softie. For all his gruff manner, he had a soft spot for small animals and was always gentle with children. He was why we adopted two stray cats. And I still remember the time we went out of our way to rescue a Joey after its mother had been hit by a car. Dad taught me that all living things deserved our respect, our kindness, and when we had to - our mercy. He taught me to care for all the creatures, and how to share our space with the wildlife that came to visit.
Dad was… a writer. Not on a professional level, he was too much in love with purple prose. But he had a lifelong love of English and word-play, and worked on endless rewrites of a planet I’d made up in my teens. I was glad I’d inspired him. I was always happy to hear he was trying to improve his stuff… but I think his love of mischief kept turning his words purple just to get a rise out of my Mum.
Dad was… an armchair anarchist. When he was able to, he kept and competed with blackpowder pistols. And collected guns just to thumb his nose at the authoritarians who tried to restrict his access. He kept a vast library about weaponry and warfare tactics… not because he loved war, but because he wanted to be prepared when the revolution came.
Dad was… belligerent, when he could not get his way. He had this way of shouting that would gradually erase the volume of his voice. Until there was nothing left but a whispering croak. You knew he was really angry about something when his face was red but you could hardly hear him. And despite that clear rage… he was something of a pacifist.
Dad was… intense in his passions. If something grabbed his interest, he would sink himself into it up to his neck. And worse, he would try to ‘infect’ everyone in his sphere of influence with his love of the thing. Ancient weapons, meerkats, The Phantom… whatever it was, you could see him coming alive with the enthusiasm and you just couldn’t bring yourself to even try to shoot that down. I remember him grinning as he told me, “You’ve got to have a look at—” his passion of the year.
Dad was… unkillable. He’d been through experiences that would have killed, maimed, or disabled any other mere mortal. He always said that doctors had been trying to kill him since he was born. It was his reassurance whenever either Mum or I worried out loud about his health. I called him the original tough nut, and he would laugh.
And now, the saddest sentence in my life is two words: Dad was.
And Dad was impossible to sum up in ten minutes.