You read that right! This is a message from the ‘hood – fatherhood, in fact. Oh come on! I’m well past the middle of my fifties – no way would I know where to start talking about any other kind of ‘hood!
Here in the UK, it was Fathers Day. Now, that’s a funny kind of ‘special day’. I mean Mothers Day is simply a rebranding of the Christian ‘Mothering Sunday’. That’s very definitely an ‘occasion’. It’s a celebration of Christ’s mother, Mary, and all mothers as an extension of that. I’m afraid that Christ’s poor old dad, Joseph, doesn’t seem to have rated similar treatment. Naturally, that didn’t stop Business from making sure that they invented a matching ‘day’ – there was a good profit to be made from it, after all.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I have absolutely no objection to Fathers Day, any more than I object to Mothers Day. As an agnostic, the religious origins of Mothers Day have less significance to me, so the lack of the same for Fathers Day is no big deal. In fact, I very much approve of both days! Good parents should be celebrated. I feel for those who were not blessed with them. Happily, I have to say that my parents were excellent and I owe them a debt beyond any ability to repay. The only way I could possibly hope to go some way to paying that debt was to try to be as good a father as I was able. Only my children can determine whether I succeeded.
I was contemplating putting a dedication to my father in one of my books. I really think it would be appropriate, and long overdue. The problem I hit was a question of which book. I’ve already got a dedication in the book I’m writing at the moment, and which is close to completion, and that is such that I would be guilt ridden if I changed it! I guess it can go in a future book, of course. I know that I really must do it, whatever happens.
I owe so much to my father. He taught me a great deal and has always been there when needed. He would be now, but for his bad health. But the important thing is that he gave me gifts you can’t buy! He taught me about nature, walking silently in even dense woodlands, so that wild animals could be seen. He taught me caring and honesty, loyalty and integrity. He gave a love of books and reading by example, being a voracious reader himself. He even had a go at writing but couldn’t devote himself to it with other things that were important to him. He taught me not to judge by the standards of others, but by my own conscience, which is why I have always detested any kind of prejudice. He taught me to hate hypocrisy and to always keep an open mind on matters of faith. He taught me, above all else, that being a father, a Dad, is so very, very much more than being a mother’s spouse! When I was little, he had to work 12 hour shifts, but whenever he wasn’t working, he was always ready to do the unexpected, from waking us up to watch a cartoon on TV to getting us into the car and going off to discover new places. He demanded little of us in return: respect, honesty and consideration. And he knew that those things come most easily when they have been earned! But, in truth, the most precious thing he taught us was to be the best parents we possibly could be!
I am proud to share the echoes of my father’s wisdom as they travel down the years with me. If I have achieved even a fraction of what he achieved, as a father, with my own children, then I am content.
Until the right book comes along and deserves a dedication:
To my father, Ken, who gave me everything!