Thirty two years ago tomorrow I became a father for the first time when my son Jonathon joined the cast of this reality show called life. A rollercoaster of a gig my boy has thus far weathered relatively well; arriving into adulthood as an engaging and grounded young man of whom I’m immensely proud.
Never short of a whimsical putdown or a quip at his dad’s expense, Jonny is more like a younger brother to me. Our bond built since that life affirming day thirty two years ago meaning our interactions, particularly verbal, bear more a mark of siblings than father and son.
Over those score and twelve summers we’ve played/watched football and club cricket together, indulged in inestimable laughs at each other’s expense, along with sharing episodes of utter despair during dark family times.
These engagements contributing to the establishment of a deep trust. Consequently, in adulthood he’s been a ‘go to’ confidante of mine and vice-versa.
Even my encouragement of Jonny becoming a Leeds United fan in childhood hasn’t dented the robust affiliation we’ve always shared. My encouraging of him to support his erratic local team meaning more miserable than verve inducing occasions.
What are my memories from that day thirty two years ago when I first became a father? Are their any episodes from that major life event indelibly etched in my mercurial mind?
One thing I recall is, prior to Jonny’s birth, friends with kids would often wax lyrical about how wonderful it was to be present at your offspring’s arrival. These deeply flawed Don Quixotesque ramblings painting the experience of childbirth as almost utopian. Inaccurate indications poetically hinting this new biography’s commencement as a trouble free first etching on chaste parchment.
Obviously, once the babe is delivered it can indeed be a magical experience; an episode leaving you in awe of the science of procreation. Quite frankly, though, the hours between contractions commencing and delivery are a dreadful time for lots of woman.
To a much lesser extent, I found its not without stress for the father – In particular the experience of utter helplessness witnessing your partner in often long term discomfort.
Even my best knock-knock jokes were unable to lift my (now estranged) wife Karen’s mood during labour. Equally as inept, my move to try speed up the birth process by deciding on a strategy utilising a megaphone and hostage negotiating tactics – Leading to my shouts of “We know you’re in there!….. Come out with your hands up and nobody will get hurt!”
Anyhow, Jonny eventually made an appearance. Although as he didn’t have his hands up I’ve ruled out my hostage negotiation as a contributing factor to a speedier arrival.
This morning, thinking about my heir’s upcoming birth anniversary brought to mind a romantic verse in 1960’s refrain They Long To Be (Close To You). A hit single penned by legendary American song writing duo Burt Bacharach and Hal David. The sentimental five lines of lyrics being :-
On the day that you were born
The angels got together
They decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair
And put a starlight in your eyes so blue.
Overly saccharin sentiments relating to the occasion of my son’s 1990 delivery perhaps…… However, I make no apologies for such gushing announcements into how I’ve felt about this engaging young man in every single day of those thirty two years since his arrival.
In recent days Jonny and his wife Jenny have announced they are expecting their own child in December. GJ Strachan beyond elated at news he’ll be a grandfather for the first time.
I don’t know much, but I do know if the child inherits their mother and father’s beauty of mind, spirit and looks they’ll be truly blessed.