I seem to have been very critical of my Dad in a lot of the posts I’ve made on my blogs – his alcoholism, the fights have all been critical in coming to terms with who and what I am. But things weren’t all bad and I want to talk about some of them here now.
We would go for haircuts together once a fortnight, Dad would insist on the barber giving me what he called a “college cut” but which was really a crew cut. Afterwards we would always go for a chocolate milk shake in a small arcade in Box Hill and Dad and I would run, racing down the footpath, dodging through the other shoppers. This ritual stopped when he began to work on Saturdays and I guess when I started to grow my hair longer.
Dad’s barbecues were the best – burnt chops and sausages, with plenty of sliced potatoes cooked in dripping and smothered in salt and tomato sauce.
He part built and never finished a number of cubby houses and tree houses for me – but that didn’t matter. He did build a small pond where I could keep tadpoles and I was always disappointed when they would turn into frogs and disappear on me.
I always knew in later years when he had backed a winner because he’d always give me ten or twenty dollars for petrol.
Like most men, myself included, my Dad was flawed but I never ever doubted he loved me. Sure I wish things had been a little different, that I’d spent the time getting to know him better, that I hadn’t been so intolerant of his foul moods, his prejudices and his fears. I wish I had learned to love golf, like he did, so that we could have played together, and I wish he hadn’t suffered from agoraphobia so that he could have enjoyed his grandchildren more.
In recent weeks I’ve seen little of three of my kids. I’ve asked if I can take them places at times and been knocked back more often than not. I wonder if they think that they are bothering me by asking me to help them out. I hope not. It’s hard to maintain an active involvement when you no longer live in the same house, it’s even harder when they make other arrangements when I offer to help. Still, tomorrow night I am taking three of them to the movies. And I will continue to put myself forward to take them places or offer and ask to do things with them.