My father has always been my rock. He is my definition of “A Decent Man”. A kind man. A man who always puts others’ interests first. These are the things I believe to be true, and these are the qualities I will remember about him until the day I die.
I usually place a few months between the times I publish something that I think has merit. But something changed for me in the past few weeks that urged me to write this story now. It was a nuance in my father’s voice as we spoke on the phone that I’ve never heard before.
This is my story to him.
Last week, a friend my Dad has known since birth said to me: “Your dad has always been harder on himself than on anyone else.”
I am sure Dad was not always the saint he appears in my eyes. I am equally sure he internalized his faults over the years, and while he may never have fully reconciled his past failures with himself, I’m certain he has tried to come to peace with those he may have faulted. As for himself, that’s a different matter.
For generations of people he came in contact with, his legacy reflects a lifetime of empathy, humility, and an extraordinary capacity compassion and for forgiveness.
A Lifetime Of Empathy
My most impactful earliest childhood memories don’t really include my dad interacting with me. They mainly came mostly from my Mum, my brothers and sisters, and my early childhood friends. Dad was always working at his school, or for a community group, or in the back yard, or sleeping on the lounge in front of the TV as soon as he finished dinner, exhausted.
But the times I did spend with Dad were magic.
He always kept a watchful eye over me, while at the same time encouraging me to be as free as a bird. If I ever asked a question, he was always patient with his answers. If he ever told a “dad” joke, he did so with a twinkle in his eyes. I always knew when Dad was engaging with me, and if he passed on wisdom, he did so as an equal.
There are a fair amount of quotes attributed to Dad in this story, and they are true to the best of my recollection. But the one that stands above all…