My Dad and I have always had a very strange relationship. We lived apart for a long time, he’s never understood my creative bent and we have had extremely different upbringings in almost completely opposing cultures and classes. But as I get older I see the similarities between us. We are both critics, tough, precious with our time and complete workaholics. I frequently look at my Dad for reasons to stop and take more breaks; he is a constantly exhausted night-owl and just a few years into my professional life I’m exactly the same.
Despite being so serious, my earliest recollections of my Dad are of him making people laugh. I think my Dad has always been “the funny one” in all of his circles, and from a young age I’ve seen him use humour not just to entertain but to diffuse tension, bring people together and make people feel comfortable. As a small child, all I can remember thinking is “when I’m older I want to be funny like Dad”. Not smart, beautiful, attractive, rich, famous or anything: just funny. I wouldn’t say I can match him for laugh-a-minute, but I get the occasional gag in where I can.
My Dad was quite hands off when I was growing up. As I get older, I realise that although I’m his first biological child, he has been stepping in and helping to “father” all sorts of people in the years before I came along; cousins, nephews and nieces, family friends, neighbours. He’s a calm listener, and his brain works in a very methodical and logical way – so his advice is always measured and rarely complicated by emotion. It’s another trait I’d like to inherit. I think I get my blunt honesty from him, but I’m not yet as well-tempered or patient as he is.
On our recent trip to Mauritius I saw him taking up the head of the family role: we’re not all together very much, but in many ways he’s a natural leader and patriarch. I’m grateful to have him in my life. Happy birthday, Dad!
Previously: Happy birthday, Mum! / Family