Growing up, my parents didn't make a fuss about their own birthdays, or Mother's Day, or Father's Day (altho each parent would be really good about helping us choose gifts for the other spouse: I've got three weeks of diary entries, aged 10, agonising over whether the nightgown and bathrobe set we'd chosen with my dad for my mother would go over big on Mother's Day, and the huge relief that 'she seemed to really like it.')
And Mr. Dot's parents are the same. So I had totally forgot til today that it was Father's Day, here, and in the States as well.
Where do I begin about my father. He looked like a cross between Cary Grant and Paul McCartney, had the wit and intelligence and charm of George Clooney and Paul Newman, who he came to resemble more in later years. Oh and very much the courtesy and kindness of Michael Palin.
In these shots, with his grandson (my nephew) Anders, he's wearing a jacket that is unlike his style. I don't remember him wearing red, his colours, like mine, were usually neutral, or shades of blue or turquoise (I've got a lot of his clothes: a great rust suede classic fifties bomber jacket, for example).
His style was pretty classic, but frankly, he'd look good in a plastic bag. He was physically fit, active, not at all obsessed about his appearance, not at all vain, but his hair was always perfectly parted, and neatly combed. Which is ironic that in these shots I took of them, it was mussed: probably by the wind, or playing with Anders. He was very much a hands on dad, an avid swimmer, tennis player, gardener (he was the original 'organic gardener', importing bugs in boxes from Japan that he explained were 'good bugs' who ate the 'bad bugs' in lieu of pesticides - everything he did, I'm realising now, was ahead of his time), enthusiastic amateur cook (he'd made these massive projects, like saving up stale bread to make bread pudding), a gifted teacher, professor, author, community leader, and he taught me so much, simply by being there to listen and support me. Every time life bumped me around a bit, he'd ask what was the 'learning experience'.
My father left this world on September 14th, 2003, but he has never left our family. He is a daily presence in our lives. And I know he hasn't left the countless friends he made along the way: he's just one of those magic people that touches everyone he meets. And I know that he is watching over me, and my sister and brother and of course, my mother, because when I did a search for these photos above, somehow an image by someone I do not know, with a file name that is just a series of numbers, appeared on my laptop:
The Buddhists believe we come back in human form over and over until we get it right. My last words to my father, who loved flying and wanted to be a pilot in World War Two, but who was too young, was to please come back and visit us again, as a bird. I see him all the time: he seems to be everywhere, watching over us.
Every time I see a father and daughter with that magic bond, I feel more sure than ever that whatever that bond is, it transcends our lives on this earth.
Happy Father's Day, dear Dad, and thank you.