My Dad

by barbznz

I started this post on Fathers Day. It seems appropriate to talk about my dad on this day.  He’s been gone a long time but he is far from my thoughts. I know that I was a great disappointment to him. Getting pregnant at 20 probably didn’t help much. I often wonder what he would think now. I am his only surviving daughter, I don’t have much money, never have, but I am happy with my life choices.

When I was little a song came out, sung by Paul Petersen, he was the kid in the Donna Read Show. : it was called my dad and I remember singing it at the top of my lungs. I even  remember most of the words.

My dad, now here is a man, to me he is everything strong things cant go wrong my dad

my dad now he understands, when I bring him troubles to share, he’s always there my dad,

I looked on You Tube on Fathers Day. It was there like almost everything else. As it  played, I cried.

The reality was, he wasn’t really that kind of dad. I wasn’t his favourite, my sister Carol was. In fact, I felt pretty invisible around him. What he really wanted was sporty kids and none of my mother’s kids were sporty.  And sometimes he said some pretty awful things to me.  And those words stay with me forever.  When the news of President Kennedy assassination came over the radio, he was in the garden. I went out and told him and he told me I was lying.

One new years eve in Hawera, two kitttens appeared. He sent us around all the neighbours to find out who owned them. Admittedly my brother and I didn’t look very hard and didn’t find out where they came from. We called them Bubble and Squeak. A few weeks later, our old cat got run over. I was really sad. My dad told me that it killed itself  because it thought we didn’t love it any more. It is the first time I had ever heard of someone killing themselves on purpose. I suspect  it was the beginning of my dark passenger.

He had a very sharp mind though and was quick with an answer when needed.  One Christmas, I got up at midnight to go to the toilet. I took a peak in the lounge and saw Mum and Dad putting presents under the tree. In the morning I got up and said, that boy was right, Father Christmas isn’t real, I saw you last night putting presents under the tree.  He just smiled and said, Father Christmas got suck in the chimney and he passed the presents down to us. And I believed him. I was totally devastated when I found out the truth, My dad had lied to me.

Dad wasn’t home a lot but I do remember him coming home from work and getting in the garden. He always had a vege garden.

Dad was his mother’s only surviving child. His older siblings, twin boy and girl died soon after birth. I don’t know a lot about his family. But I know he was a bit of daredevil. He raced motor cycles under his mothers maiden name so my mum didn’t fine out.

I remember hearing about the big flood, I am too young to remember it, but we almost lost Nana and Uncle Ian. Some sheep we being washed up against the fence and drowning. Dad got into the water and started lifting them over the fence. It was dangerous work but it needed doing.

He was also a returned service man, though he certainly didn’t talk about it, Not because of the horrors of war though. He joined the air force  at the end of the war and at some point flew outside the three mile limit technically meaning that he been overseas. It was quite embarrassed about it really.

After the war, he joined the post office. he started by delivering telegrams, and ended up as Senior Chief Technician at Tauranga. He could of gone higher but he liked Tauranga, so he used the excuse that his daughter was pregnant and couldn’t go.  My stepmother was not very happy about it, every now over the years she would bring it up, how Dad could have gone out on top, it only I hadn’t got my self pregnant.

Dad really loved technology,We had a television much earlier than most people. When we moved to Hawera and Greymouth, he was involved in lobbying for  decent reception.  I often wonder what he would make of all the modern things we have now, when he died mobile phones were as big as bricks and just as  heavy.  Computers were just coming in though very expensive and not for home use.

My parents split after we moved to Tauranga.  It was a really tough time. I was fourteen.  He eventually remarried to another Margaret  who again he met at work and they had a  son, my baby brother Anthony of whom I am very proud. He is a really nice guy. Younger than Suzanne and older than Simon. he was an uncle when he was born. And he was sporty, a fine hockey player. Unfortunately Dad died when he was 11, so he missed seeing it.

I would go and stay with him and Margaret off and on in my teenage years and when I moved north, he was able to find me a flat.  He wasn’t very happy with either of my pregnancies. He was even unhappier Marty and I moved in together.  To top it off, he was not impressed at all when I told him that we were having a BYO wedding. Not that he offered to pay for  it.  But they came anyway.

In his early sixties, he got prostrate cancer. My mother’s family called it poetic justice. But it was a cruel jab at a man who died a very painful death. I didn’t see much of him in his last years, mostly Christmas and birthdays. I felt out of place, he had a new family.

He hated illness, avoided it as much as he could. At his funeral, the celebrant talked about how he nursed his mother when she had cancer. Reality was, Mum nursed her. He stayed away as much as he could. At his service, it didn’t even feel like they were talking about my dad.  They mentioned me and my brother but not where we came from, or my mother, who he was married to for nearly twenty years.  But it was a huge funeral, one of the biggest I had ever been too.

Because everyone liked my dad, including me.