It has been said that relationships with fathers can be pretty complicated and I can certainly attest to that! My dad and I had what some might describe as a love/hate relationship. Both in possession of some very stereotypical Aries traits, my dad and I challenged each other in many ways. Aries are renown for being spirited, hot tempered, confident and often at times supremely arrogant and they say that Aries children born to Aries parents get double the dose. With similar tempers and our infuriating tendency to always be right, our relationship was at times quite volatile.
Dad was nearly 40 by the time I arrived. Having four other daughters from a previous marriage, I often wondered if he was a little disappointed to have never had a son although he never indicated as much to us. I guess he was destined to be surrounded by women in his life!!
I have to confess that I still have quite mixed feelings about my dad. As a kid I loved him like any little girl does her daddy. But I was also very aware of his nasty streak at a very very young age, a nasty streak that is a trait quite often seen in alcoholics. Dad was not a friendly drunk. The night that we upped and left him is a night that is etched vividly into my memory – even now.
Many years later I would talk to Mum about that night and it turns out the clarity of my memory was spot on. I would have been about 6 years old and after an evening spent at the pub, Dad had arrived home in a rage and was throwing things around the kitchen. Mum had bore the brunt of it and after what seemed an eternity, Dad passed out. I walked up to Mum and said “He told you to piss off so why don’t you?”
The next night we were gone.
Fortunately for all of us, Dad eventually sought some help and as I mentioned in the last Memory Lane Monday, his relationship with Mum after that was actually a very happy and positive one. I never saw Dad drink again… until the day that Mum died, which would have been eleven years later.
Despite some of the shitty memories (of which some extended into adulthood too), I recall some really fabulous memories of my childhood. And I can appreciate now that a lot of what I know in life I learnt from my Dad. He instilled in me a love of camping and of motorsports (much to the hubby’s delight). He also instilled in me the absolute loathing I have of giving people massages (much to my hubby’s dismay). As kids, Dad was always getting us to massage his back for 20c a pop. This was back in the day when 20c could buy a huge bag full of lollies so as much as we hated it we would always give him a massage so we could stock up on our stash of lollies.
As a panel beater and mechanic, Dad’s love for motorsport saw him race speedway and ride motorbikes most of his life. My sister and I spent a lot of time growing up at speedways, running around with the other kids and feeling the spray of the mud from over the fence. And ‘smoking’ Fags. Remember them? Well, until they were renamed Fads and then completely removed from the lolly landscape all together!
It was Dad that found and fixed up my first car, a 1982 Mitsubishi Colt nicked-named Bobby. Bobby had a custom metallic paint job and a little more grunt than your average chick car. I think about that car a lot wish to this very day I took a picture of it!
Like Mum, there are so many memories of Dad that I am looking back upon now and seeing from a completely different perspective. And like Mum, it’s been very enlightening. It goes without saying that you inherit certain aspects of your own personality from your parents and I think my confidence comes from my Dad. He was a popular man who didn’t mince his words and got involved in a lot of new and crazy things. Over the years he learnt to play the guitar, did a bit of bootscooting (OMG soooo embarrassing Dad) and became an avid paragliding enthusiast, often coming home to tell us about the tree he crash landed in or the fabulous views he saw while in the air. Paragliding was a sport he managed to rope a few of his friends into and on many occasions he offered to teach me how to fly, but knowing how quickly the tempers could flare between us, I wasn’t prepared to take the risk in case we had a barney suspended hundreds of meters in the air!
Dad wasn’t afraid to speak his mind or beat to the sound of his own drum and a lot of people who know me would probably describe me in a similar manner. I’m pretty sure my hubby had a better sense of who I am after meeting my Dad. That first meeting saw us arrive at Dad’s around 8am one morning and as we walked up the stairs Dad was outside sitting on the verandah. I introduced them to each other and then Dad asked my hubby if he’d like a beer. Thinking his father-in-law was a pretty cool bloke, my hubby asked if Dad would have one too before Dad replied – I’ve already had one this morning. I just laughed…
Dad and I had more than a few arguments in my early twenties and there were a few years where we did not speak. It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I actually began to appreciate the effort and sacrifices he made for us. Taking on two girls as a single Dad so that we could go to school and not have to split our school holidays between Mum and Dad was a huge commitment. I actually get sad thinking about the feelings he must have felt knowing that his daughters weren’t speaking to him (his other 4 daughters before my sister and I don’t have anything to do with him due to various incidences fuelled by his alcoholism).
I can honestly say that I would die if my girls did that to me and it’s one of the greatest fears that I harbour as a parent. But I’m happy to say that the last few years of his life were positive ones for us and we were able to get on the same page and appreciate the similarities and differences we had before he died. And I’m so grateful that we did that for each other.
My dad died three weeks after Miss B was born and living two States away, we ended up driving from Victoria to Queensland to arrange the funeral and pack up and sell his house. My sister and I both have children and it’s a very sad thing to know that our kids will never have the opportunity to meet their maternal grandparents.
But there are many memories to share and I’m glad that I can give them this opportunity to look back and learn a little bit more about their grandparents. Well at least through my perspective anyway!
Did you get on with your Dad growing up? Do you have a childhood memory of ‘smoking’ Fags/Fads?