(* slightly clumsy augmentation of the famous 'O Captain! My Captain!' poem by Walt Whitman)
You may remember that, some time after Mother's Day, I wrote a post about my fabulous mother. Well it's been Father's Day and I can't let my dad go uncommented on. So strap on your seatbelt dad, here we go...
I made my dad a chequebook cover, out of an Ikea beige plain fabric and a beautiful V&A shell print. Crikey, it's tough to sew for a man. Sewing seems such a feminine thing (though I know a fair number of men do it). If you ever take the time to look through an online fabric shop, you'll find most prints are floral, pretty-coloured or child-oriented. There's little masculinity to be found (though, contradicting myself again, Amy Butler's husband has started designing his own line of manly prints).
But a chequebook is a sort of masculine thing, and a cover for it is a little more - well, a lot more - manly than a bag or somesuch. In the recesses of my memory I remembered Mary Emmens had sewn a few, so I had a go at making my own, making up the design as I went along (though I can now see that her remembered chequebook cover provided more than a little inspiration - thanks Mary!).
So there's the chequebook story over. Now to what I really wanted to say...
- My dad is brilliant, bonkers, unforgettable.
- He's sixty-something on the outside and sixteen on the inside.
- He's absolutely head-over-heels with my children, just as he was head-over-heels with my brothers and I growing up. I had my unappreciative moments, particularly when breaking free as a teenager. Now I know how lucky I was; how lucky I am. I don't tell him often enough, because we tend not to with men, because 'I love you's' are more known than spoken.
- You'd be hard-pressed to find such a Pied Piper to children - in the best of ways (by which I mean he's not leading them into the mountain!). I've yet to find a child not completely potty about him. Does he have some kind of secret magic? They just know that the twinkles in his eyes were made by them. My children are as lucky as me. And that's very lucky.
- My mum taught me about the mother I wanted to be, about the woman I would become. My dad taught me about the person I wanted to be and would become. That's really quite something.
- He had so much time for me. We would spend hours talking through the way the world and the people in it worked. I can't tell you how often the 'fruit-economy' and 'wine-bottle-perspective' lessons have come in handy over the years. You can't help but be in awe of a man who loves a good metaphor.
- He taught me, stood on a chair, to recite Wordsworth's Daffodils. That's a gift to anyone's heart.
- He gave me my love of words and writing. He taught me to watch and draw. So many of the lessons I've learnt and the passions I've grown have been down to him.
- If a dad can teach you 2-point perspective at about eight, and take you for trips to look at railings, chimneys and window proportions, you're a lucky girl. You'll learn how to see the world, how to represent it, and to notice all the little overlooked things that can enrich your world and your day.
- Counting my blessings, taking my rose-tinted glasses off, mowing my own lawn rather than going where the grass looks greener... all these things, all this philosophising, came from him.
- He's a realist. His praise is saved for when it's really deserved. He tells the truth. He thinks deeply. He thinks hard.
- He knows me. And for the things in me that have changed or improved, I know I can show him those things and he will learn. He won't always tell me how great he thinks I am, but he will probably be telling someone else. When he does tell me, it'll mean so much more than the easy, little praises other people can give you. I will have really earnt it. He will have really meant it.
- I don't know how I could continue without him around. He keeps saying he's not long for this world. Stop it, Dad! Live, live, live. We none of us could be without you. You're the cement holding us all together. You're the magician to my children. You are the captain, my captain. I would be adrift without you.