I wore this about my dad on Father’s Day 2012.
Times change and so has the role of the father in our society.
Dad was a farmer, a tough country bloke. After being born on a dairy farm and living for five years on a sheep station, my two brothers and I grew up on a five thousand acre property in central Queensland, farming sunflower, safflower, sorghum and wheat. Our childhood was a summer haze. I don’t remember Dad showing much emotion when we were kids, and looking back his main role was that of a provider. Mum seemed to do all of the rest. Dad did spend all of his time working. As a farmer that seemed to be twenty-four hours a day seven day’s a week, if it was dry he was in a paddock, if it was raining he was in the shed. If there was a bush fire he was fighting it, a flood he was helping neighbours. We certainly never felt like he wasn’t there for us. We saw him every night at dinner when he would come in eat and watch the weather report on our tiny black and white TV that only got the ABC. Dad was also the final word on discipline. We could nag mum all day but as soon as dad said no we knew it was over. We always had great family holidays, camping, fishing, hiking and four-wheel driving. We often went to the “big smoke” too, and visited nearly all of the islands in the Whitsunday’s. I remember once begging mum and dad for us not to go away so we could do things with our friends on the school holidays instead.
We didn’t have a lot of money but we never felt we needed any more than what we were provided with. When I was twelve dad built a house in the local town, population nine hundred. This was so we could have better educational choices. We spent our first years of education in a one teacher school that went from grade one to seven and had about twenty-four kids on a good year. Dad then continued to spend most of his time on the farm and only came to town when he had a machinery breakdown or it was raining. It was at that age that my younger brothers and I started swimming club in summer and little athletics in winter. Very different to the busy schedules of the kids today and the time that parents spend driving them to it all. As kids we usually rode our bikes to all the sport we did, to school and to our friends houses. We did rely on mum, and sometimes dad to take us all over the country side on weekends in summer to go to swimming carnivals.
Dad eventually sold his farm and bought a motel. Our lives changed completely, mostly for the better, a bigger town of ten thousand, bigger schools again and every sport that you could dream of at our finger tips. The motel business was twenty-four hours a day seven day’s a week, which mum and dad were used too but we were all much closer, living in the little house that contained the motel reception, and we got to spend so much more time with dad. It was an interesting childhood living in a motel, we thought it was pretty cool. I left home at seventeen to start my hospital nursing training. Mum and dad had a couple more moves and when the first batch of grand kids were little they ended up in the same capital city I lived in. All of our family are now here, with seven grand children. I’m sure thirty, forty or even fifty years ago dad never would have imagined he would live in the big smoke. Surprisingly he has adapted well. I remember coming from the country for expo ’88. Dad drove to Toowoomba, the roads were too busy to drive any further, caught the bus to Ipswich and then the train into Expo. A few years later driving us to a specialist doctor’s appointment in the city he managed to drive all the way to about Oxley where he pulled over, swinging the car into a motel saying that was it he wasn’t driving any further. Now he cruises around the city in his Lexus like he was born to it.
Dad and I are closer than ever in our adult relationship. I remember him dropping me off at the hospital nurses quarters on my first day and having to “go and park the car”, but we all knew it was because he was in tears. We have never had an argument that I can remember, he is a great support to me and I know he is very proud of me. We live close by and he enjoys teasing and harassing the grand kids, AKA, “the turkeys”. Mum and dad in their early sixties are really in the prime of their lives, financially sound, traveling overseas, mum work’s if she wants to, they can spend time with the grand kids and then give them back, they are completely free to do as they choose. Dad should probably never retire, he will need to keep busy, he doesn’t know how to do nothing, sure he could take it easy but he would go stir crazy with nothing to do. I am very lucky to still have him in my life, and I hope to have him around for a long time to come.
With this in mind, I have recently banned him from getting on the roof. No more Christmas lights to go on the roof. What is it with men and getting on the roof? I told him all the things that could happen to him and what we would do to him in the emergency department if he fell off the roof. Including the finger up the bot! His response to that was he would just wait until “the old girl” goes out so if he did fall he might be dead before she got home!!!! Typical Aussie country bloke.
Love ya dad!
Stay safe, be happy,