Today is my first experience of Fathers Day since the old man’s passing in October.
Ordinarily it’d be an event I’d spend in pater’s company where we’d chat affably, listen to the new CD we’d bought him, while sharing the bottle of merlot which we’d also rather predictably presented him with.
The opening of his gifts wasn’t an overly officious presentation like the Trooping of the Colour or the State Opening of Parliament. However, my dad did insist on some formalities, such as carrying the endowments into his living room on a velvet cushion, accompanied by the strains of a lone piper. I’d never been a big fan of Black Lace’s novelty record Agadoo, however, I’d be the first to admit, played as a bagpipe lament it takes on a whole new level of artistic integrity.
If it was a good bottle of red we’d bequeathed pater, it would be placed in his wine cellar for him to drink on another day. Meanwhile he’d bring out the stuff that he’d bought on offer at Sainsburys that week. That may seem mean, but in Mally’s defence why should he waste good wine on a man like yours truly who judges it’s quality on how loud it makes him belch.
I soon cottoned onto the old man’s wine uncorking strategy of saving the good stuff for himself. With that in mind, I started gifting him the cheaper stuff. Buying him the same Sainsburys vino offers, as opposed to the expensive vintage for the more discerning wine drinkers palate. Meaning I was still getting the same tipple, but it was costing me less…… A Win/Wine situation you could say.
As alluded to earlier, another traditional Fathers Day gift for the old man was a music CD. A job always made easy by the fact he’d such an eclectic taste; consequently we were never stumped in our search for a suitable album. This was helped further when I started getting him cheaper wine and I had more to spend on the disk…… You surely didn’t think I’d pocket my frugal gains from the vino did you?!
It’s around eight months since Mally left us. I recall writing at the time that the pain he’d been suffering prior to his passing, transferred to his brood’s hearts as he drew his last breath. The fact he was in his 80’s and “He’d had a good innings!” doesn’t diminish the loss of his company one jot.
I miss him every day. He rightly or wrongly taught my siblings and me to judge individuals and situations from a baseline of positivity, always looking for the good in people. A mantra my younger brother and sister seem to achieve significantly easier than me these days.
If he is watching over his brood, he’d disapprove of my cynicism, anger and bitterness as I fester in middle-age. I recollect many years ago during one of my particularly misguided and melodramatic rants he felt moved to remind me how lucky I was and need to re-evaluate my outlook.
I’d have been around the age of 20 years old. We were in our local estate pub The Jolly Miller in Low Fell, Gateshead. Our Sunday night ritual of a ‘quick pint’ which never ended up with just one ‘quick pint’. Listening to his words of wisdom were one of my biggest blessings – Calm, wise, positive, doting of his kids and wife, and without a hint of vanity or narcissism.
We didn’t put the world to rights – I merely listened to a man who tried to make me re-evaluate life. On this particular evening he brought home the realisation I’d been lucky to be brought into a first world country where I’d never experienced poverty or abuse.
I’d be lying if I claimed to have always acted upon all of his advocacies, but I should have. It’d certainly have helped reduce my stupider decisions during this existential journey.
Today I saw a picture that my sister Helen published on social media, accompanied by some beautiful words about how much she loved and missed dad.
Our Helen closed her post with a comment relaying that if you need to know how much we loved the old man then just look at her face while he delivers her father of the bride speech. It’s a look we’d all given him a hundred times or more.