I remember he used to ask us if we wanted to go for a car ride. When I’d ask where we were going he would reply, ‘down the road and back to see how far it is.’ This always meant fish and chips! So exciting for a child!
I remember he nicknamed my youngest brother Garbo, short for Garbage because he would eat and eat and eat, even though he was less than eighteen months old. To this day I still call my brother Bo and get confused when I hear his real name.
I remember he asked a band to play ‘Happy Birthday’ for my sister and I when we were on holiday in the North Island as our birthdays are only a day apart. We were so excited and he danced with us too.
I remember on cold winters nights he would toast bread on the fire for us to eat with our soup. I remember he used to get so frustrated because we would eat the toast faster than he could toast it. Bread tastes so much better toasted on the fire!
I remember I loved to help him with whatever he was doing. Gardening, painting the house, it didn’t matter as long as I got to help. I’m sure I was more of a hindrance than a help but he always let me join in.
I remember him jumping out of my bedroom window to shoo a cat away that was on the front lawn. I thought this was hilarious but mum wasn’t so impressed.
I remember when my youngest brother was born he had to take my sister and I to the hospital to see mum because he didn’t know how to do our hair before school (and apparently neither did we).
I remember watching Macgyver with him on Sunday nights. I loved this because I got to spend time with him and got out of the dishes! I couldn’t watch Macgyver for the longest time after he died.
I remember one day we were all sick, including mum and he looked after us. He made us what he called ‘Daddy’s Concoction Chicken.’ To this day I have never tasted any chicken similar, but I would love to.
The next day he got sick. He never got better. A month or so later he went to hospital. He never left.
I remember the day he died vividly. It was three days before Christmas. A nice hot summers day. We were having a good morning. Then the phone rang.
It got confusing after that. Mum was in a hurry to leave the house but I didn’t really know why. The phone rang again but mum was so flustered she couldn’t work out who was on the other end and she hung up.
We got to the hospital in record time and rushed to the intensive care unit. They wouldn’t let us in and we went into the waiting room. A few moments later a nurse came out and spoke to mum. She was crying and so were we, but I still wasn’t sure why.
After a while I had to ask. ‘Is Daddy dead?’ I got the answer I didn’t want.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. We were taken to the room he was in. We drew pictures for him. My aunt and cousin showed up. It turned out they were the ones who had called. My cousin wanted me to go for a swim in their pool. I didn’t think I could. ‘But what about Daddy?’ I asked. It was at this moment that my aunt said the best thing she could have at that time, ‘Daddy would have wanted you to go for a swim.’ If she hasn’t said that I think potentially I might have stopped living for a while.
We got more presents that Christmas than any before or since. I didn’t care. It was that year that I discovered Santa wasn’t real. How could he be?
My father died of lung cancer, legionnaires disease and double pneumonia. He was given seven years to live but he only lasted about seven weeks. This was a blessing as he didn’t suffer too long.
I am so grateful for the eight years I got with my father. Eight years I got to be daddy’s little girl. I have eight years of memories of the best father a girl could want.
My mother did an amazing job after he died. All of a sudden she was alone, with four young children to look after. I helped a little but as I got older I stopped appreciating her hard work. I made it very difficult for her and I still feel bad about that.
I get annoyed when I hear people say ‘I hate my father.’ But I don’t know their stories. All I know is I wish my father was still here. I know he would be proud of who I am today. I know he would have been upset by some of my choices in the past, but I know he would still love me all the same.
Today would be my fathers 73rd birthday. Unfortunately he only made it to 49. Appreciate what you have. You don’t know how long you have it for.
Smiles and Sunshine