a letter to my father…


Dear Dad

Today you are 80 years old. 80 years.

What an amazing life you’ve led.

I’m know you’ve stopped many times to consider all you’ve experienced and I’ve listened to and loved your stories, I’ve retold them to my children. I hope I never forget.

How different this world must seem to you. How fast, how unnecessarily  complicated when you compare it to the life you lived as a child.  A simpler, quieter, harder life. But a great one.  And a tough one. I love how you tell is how it was without complaint or drama. It just was the way it was ‘back then’.  There are so many cliché’s and jokes built around that old chestnut of ‘when I was a boy we had to walk miles barefoot in the cold just to get to school’  but you actually did walk miles to school, barefoot, in the dark and cold, barely older than Oscar is now. I can’t even imagine it.

You must look at us and shake your head at how soft we are, how good we’ve got it, and always have had it. 40 years I’ve lived and I’ve never really done it tough. Not in the way you did. You made sure of that. You have been there. Providing, teaching, loving, guiding, being.

40 years. 40 years of knowing, without question, that you are there. That I am never without options, that there is another home for me to go to, that I am loved, unconditionally, that there is nothing I could do or say that would change that, that I am loved for everything that is the best and worst of me because you and I know both know you’ve seen it all. You have withstood everything I’ve had to throw at you and never wavered.  On the darkest nights my world just  feels safer with you in it. Even when you have been thousands of miles away I have always known you’re there. There is no greater gift you have could have given to your child.

I know there could have been a different path for you, one where you didn’t become a dairy farmer and continue the only life you’d ever really known, on the land. I know you’ve wondered about where a different, more selfish choice might have led you, the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what could have been’, but rather than grow bitter, you took what you had and you made the very, very best of it and you succeeded, and along the way you and mum created a beautiful life for us. I hope as you look back, you will recognise that no riches or glory could have been better than what we had and the life you built for your family. I hope you know how loved you were, and are still.


I have learned so much from you. Lessons that I will teach my children and hope that they will teach theirs.

I have learned that one of the most important things in life is to be true. You fight so passionately (and pretty loudly given how deaf you are) for what you believe in, for what you know to be fair and honest and while we don’t always agree, there is something I love about our family shouting each other down over the table about one world issue or another while someone calls for more beer and wine to fuel the fire a little more and mum wonders what on earth is going on. You raised us that way, to be passionate and true and stand up for what we believe to be right.

I have learned that when it all comes down to it, that family and the people we love, are everything. Everything.  You and mum raised us to be decent, good, kind, fair, honest human beings. We work hard, we live passionately, we love each other, and you deeply. Thank you for them. For my sisters and my brother. For teaching us to look out for each other.  And for everything you taught us to be.

My love of words, of writing, of expression, of books, are a gift from you. You have the most amazing way with words, a sensitivity, a depth, a wisdom and although we don’t see it often, it makes me wish you had spent so much more of your 80 years putting pen to paper.  I’ll do it for both of us. Every word I write has a tiny part of you in it and wherever it takes me, I will carry you with me.

80th-423I see your incredible intelligence manifesting in your grandchildren, in their remarkable gifts and talents and while it’s easy to believe that spotlight should have been shining on you in this lifetime, it turns out it was just gently flickering away in the background, ready to burst out in full glory two generations later.  Look at your family, at these remarkable children, at each of the extraordinary people whose lives you have helped shape and tell me you have not achieved extraordinary things in this life. Your life has been a beautiful gift.

I have been blessed beyond measure to call you ‘Dad’, blessed to see you become a grandfather to our children. I don’t want to imagine a world without you in it and I am grateful for having you to guide me through the first 40 years of this life.

I know I tell you all the time that I love you but I wonder if you really know the depth of how grateful I am for you, for the choices you made, for the life you built for us, for the legacy you will leave. Your love has been the greatest gift to us and that will flow through the generations to follow us. We were protected so fiercely, hugged so tightly, held so dearly, loved so deeply.  That kind of love doesn’t stop at the end of one lifetime.

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Happy 80th birthday lovely Father, you are everything a daughter could hope to have and the very best any man could ever hope to be.