I’ve been very neglectful of this blog for the longest time, for reasons to numerous to mention, but have been thinking for awhile of starting to post things again, as there are things I wanted to say, that I don’t feel comfortable saying on the other channel, which is primarily about my crafting endeavours.
And then today, having lunch with a fairly new, but I hope will become, a firm friend, and talking about blogs, I was prompted to look at my very first attempts at blogging, that I abandoned when too many people in my real life (particularly my workplace) were reading readily, and I felt I had to censor myself, and I realised there were somethings there that I’m very pleased of, that I’d like to think others might like to read, one of which is the post below, about my Dad, written exactly 3 years ago, on what would have been his 71st birthday. He would have been 74 today, if he’d lived… and while I can read these bittersweet reflections on my life with him, I find myself 3 years later, being much more understanding and tolerant of the two very different sides to his nature.
Today, would have been my Dad’s 71st birthday, if he was still with us. I have been thinking a lot of trying to put down on paper my father’s story. But I realise, I never really knew him. I knew the stories he told, but it’s sometimes difficult to determine what was fact or fiction. But I have memories, mental snapshots, and I wonder whether it is his story or my own that I need to write about…
Sitting outside of the old mansion in St Kilda, converted into apartments, that was home. My brother, Dad and I sitting on the front verandah watching the world go by, Dad telling funny stories about the people passing. And my yelling “there’s Father Christmas, Daddy, there’s Father Christmas” and wondering why he tried to shush me, as a heavily bearded man, in a black suit and a big hat walked down the street. It’s only now looking back I realise why he was so embarrassed, the man was an Orthodox Jew walking to the synagogue and here was I calling him Santa!
Dad yelling at us, cause we’d brought home a kitten found in a derelict house, that we wanted to keep. “There will be no animals in this house” he roared, and then we found the kitten asleep on his lap that night. He cried when he buried Dirty Dora in the backyard years later. And for every animal we had, we’d hear the same roar, and then he’d love them and they him.
Driving in the furniture truck with Mum and my baby sister, with my brother and Dad on the back to the new house in Thomastown, only to arrive and find the house has no walls or windows, and the builder’s done a bunk with our money and we are homeless.
Curled up on his lap, watching Little Women, and the two of us sobbing, as Beth dies.
Telling me to shut up or I’d be sorry, while I sobbed quietly lying on the top bunk of the room I shared with my sister, not understanding why I’d been sent to bed in the middle of the afternoon in punishment for some unknown misdemeanor. And then crying even more, as he closed the door and said to my brother and sister, who wants an icecream?
Sitting on his shoulders at a grown up fancy dress party, when I’d sneaked out of bed to see every one’s costumes, and him insisting I be allowed to stay up, much to my mother’s disgust. He was dressed up as Herman Munster, and he kept losing the bolt of his neck so he araldited it to his head, and it took weeks before it fell off.
Hiding under the covers, with my hands pressed to my ears, as he crawled drunkenly along the hallway, crying for his mother, after an alcoholic binge that lasted days.
Screaming through the hallways and alleyways around the apartments we lived in on a hot summers night, while Dad and the other grown ups threw buckets of water at us, as we raced around in our summer pj’s.
Being bundled into my parents bed in the wee small hours of the night by a neighbour, and seeing the flash of the ambulance lights against the windows, while we were told that Daddy’s had an accident, and has cut himself shaving… and my brother whispering to me, I saw him, why would Dad be shaving his wrists?
Watching a neverending stream of boys pile in or out of his Volkswagen Beetle as he drove them to football practice… the only father on the block with a car. He was also the defacto ambulance when we had an emergency, when Brian upstairs fell and broke his arm, or my friend Karen set her skirt alight while jumping over a bonfire.
Dancing around in his underwear, singing I’m So Pretty, oh so Pretty… and hamming it up for the camera.
Sitting at the kitchen table the night of my sister’s wedding, and reaching out to pinch me at every opportunity, until a friend asked him why he was being so mean, and him saying “Cause I hate her”
Walking up to wait for me to finish work at the local gift shop on a Friday night, and sweeping up and helping out while he waited, and then holding my hand all the way home and telling me how proud he was and how much he loved me.
Terrorising the teachers, and amusing all my classmates at every parent/teacher night he ever went to. One of the boys said “You’re Dad is so cool, you are so lucky” and I said “You can have him if you like!”