Happy birthday dad.....wherever you may be !
I say that because he died in 1986, when he was 74 and I was 34.
Some of those ages and years surprised me when I thought about them today. See, I never thought of my dad as old. He never looked it. I realise that these days, 74 isn't THAT old but he had a youthful face. He was also very active. Not in a keep fit, sporty way as he had no time for such things.
Dad worked just about every waking hour. He had his regular job with a painting/decorating company and then did private jobs in the evenings to bring in the money needed to get two sons through boarding school. My mum did about 3 low paid jobs as well AND we took in the occasional lodger.
With all that going on, how come we weren't rolling in disposable income ??!! But we weren't.
Dad was a great painter and decorator but he barely charged more than he'd paid for the materials. This made him very popular but never made him much money. That was just how he was.
We barely got by with both my parents working their socks off from dawn till dusk. This upbringing, although we boys never really knew how many sacrifices were being made for us at the time, forged my attitude to money in that I've never bought what I couldn't pay for up front; I've never been in debt and I've always been a saver.
Dad was a kind, gentle man who never raised his voice and if we did something wrong, he showed his displeasure by telling us he had obviously failed as a parent. Man was that a powerful guilt giver. To this day I still remember how terrible I felt about misbehaving in church after getting one of those speeches from him. To think I'd let down this wonderful man was almost more than I could stand and led me to berate myself for my actions more than any punishment could do. When it came from my mother too, oh my God. Both barrels at once ? I felt so low I was under the belly of a worm that was under the belly of another worm.
I donno if dad had a happy life. It was certainly a hard life but we had lots of fun too. He loved my mum more than life itself and vice versa. How she lived on for another 16 years without him was anyone's guess. Within the family, most money was on weeks, not years.
That's not to say she ever forgot him, not for one second. She wanted to be with him but wasn't going to help the process along in any way. She was too much of a catholic for that. But as she approached 80 and her health had failed so much that she had to go into a home, she wasn't going to hang about any longer. Not wanting to be a burden on anyone, it was no surprise then, that within a few weeks of entering the home, she slipped away to be with dad.
Dad didn't want much out of life. He was a simple man who lived without luxuries and never sought them. He didn't leave a rich legacy of sage quotes but rather, left his life itself as a testimony to the man he was. He also left me with indelible memories of a man at peace with himself and with a firm belief in his faith. He loved his God, his wife and his family above all else.
And his God, his wife and his family were all the better for that love and that life.
I just wish I'd told him that more often.
Happy birthday dad.