This was originally posted on May 11, 2011.
My dad passed away on the 11th month on the 22nd day at the young age of 66.
I'm still in shock as I post this in loving memory of a truly wonderful man.
Today is my dad's birthday - (well it is in Canada) I'm a day ahead in New Zealand. He was born on May 11th. I thought I'd celebrate his birthday by writing some of the things I love so much about him.
My dad and I have a unique father-daughter relationship. He wasn't around much when I was growing up but I adored him nonetheless. My dad was a kind, happy, quiet guy who was a bit of a drifter. He used to just "turn up" at our house unexpectedly once or twice a year.
When I would come home from school and see his truck parked in the driveway, my heart would race. It was the best feeling on earth - even better than Christmas! I'd barrel through the door and there he'd be, sitting in the kitchen having a coffee with my Mom with a great big smile on his face, "surprise honey!" Those are my favorite words. I'd perch myself on his lap and that's where I'd stay hugging him until he was off again... even when I got too big to sit on his lap, I did it anyway. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I didn't know what it was like to have a dad who stayed longer than a few hours a couple of times a year so it was no big deal to me. I absolutely loved that man. He was my hero. I was so proud to show him off. I'd invite all of my friends over just so I could prove that I had the coolest dad on earth - and they all agreed.
In summertime, he would buy a big box of popcicles for me to share with my friends. He'd take us to the beach in the back of his pick up truck (when you did that sort of stuff and it wasn't illegal). He taught me to drive that truck when I was 15 on a country road. When I was little, he let me sit on his lap and steer. He was so much fun.
I loved the fact that my dad had a great big heart. He never said a bad thing about anyone. He was a hard worker. He was always helping others, building decks, fixing their roof, fixing horse floats... he was called Roger the 'Tin Man' because he was a craftsman with aluminium siding. He often worked for his friends for a case of beer.
Everyone loved him. Anyone who knows my dad would describe him as "a really great guy". You just can't fault him for anything.
He loved my mother, even though they couldn't be together, he always made that clear to me. I knew that he adored me beyond words. He was and is incredibly proud of his only daughter.
My mom and dad met in the early 70's. They met while my mom was racing Austin Minis. My dad described my mom as "extraordinary", there just wasn't another woman on this planet like my mother. She was beautiful but didn't know it, she could fix a car better than most men and she would do anything for anyone and she loved her kids. My dad admired her for her strength and her heart. He was 8 years her junior, only 19 when they met and he was prepared to take on her 4 kids. It wasn't easy, I give my dad a lot of credit for trying.
My parents both tell me that I was conceived from pure love. I like that. I was a love child. It's very fitting. My dad chose my name as I was his first child (and only daughter). I looked a lot like him and as the years go on, I am more and more like him too. It proves the theory of nature vs. nurture. I am my father's daughter.
My mom and dad split up when I was 3 and he came and went in and out of my life ever since. But despite the fact that I rarely saw him, you couldn't fault him for being who he was. He wasn't a bad man or an absentee father (though he never did pay child support, he didn't believe in it) and it upset my mother. In fact, when I was older, my dad told me that the reason he stayed away was because he genuinely believed I was better off without seeing him much. Confrontation made my dad really uncomfortable and my mother was a confrontational, acusatory person when she was hurting. That's why they just couldn't make it work. Love wasn't enough.
Having a dad like mine was kinda like living with a time traveller - just like the movie. He would just turn up and then he'd be off again. I learned to love not knowing when I'd see him next. Every time I saw him though, he was so full of love. How could I get upset with that? I understood him. This was who he was, love it or leave it. I didn't always love it but I accepted it.
I still only see my dad once every year or two (now that I'm the drifter). Our relationship is strong but to most people probably very odd because we don't ring up to talk to each other. I wish I could say I call him once a month - but I don't. He rarely calls me - rarely has. When we did spend time together, we would sit listening to his old vinyls, crying as the words spoke the things our hearts needed to say. He's not one to send birthday cards or Christmas presents. We have one of those telepathic relationships - I love him and he loves me.
Our bond is unconditional and pretty rare. It's simple, it's a beautiful thing.
Sometimes he would just call me out of the blue saying, "Hi Honey, I was just thinking of you and I didn't want a perfectly good thought to go to waste."
I'm thinking of you Dad. I think about you and send love out to you every single day. I know you feel it because I feel you doing the very same thing.
We're two peas in a pod. Happy Birthday Dad! I adore you and I always will.
*** 2019 - In recent years my dad and I started talking more frequently and he even learned the basic art of texting (his spelling was atrocious which is why he hated writing). This was the last text conversation we had...
It brought me so much joy when I'd get a random text from him telling me how much he loved me, how proud he was of me, that a day didn't go by that he didnt think about me and he felt my love for him in his heart every day too.
You have no idea how much comfort that brings me. I could never convince him to learn to Skype. I wish I'd known more of his friends who could've done that for him. I missed his voice and his face.
He's been gone a week and I've been utterly helpless, stuck in Australia until I return home to New Zealand to make arrangements to get home to take care of my dad's finsl wishes.
It is not going to be easy but I know he's going to be there to give me strength through his ever present, never changing love. I'm going to need it. ***