It seemed unbelievable that my father had just turned 90 – but then I did the math and realised more unbelievable was my eldest sister soon turning 70 (well ……… in 6 years to be precise). Should I tell her? Is she aware the big 7 0 is just over the horizon? Would me telling her lessen the blow – or would she direct that blow my way? Perhaps I could leave it to one of the braver siblings to break the news…..
Our father turning 90 was unbelievable for many reasons but not least because the usual – I assume it’s a time immemorial phenomenon – role reversal where the child becomes the parent and counsels the now elderly parent has not yet happened with my father and me. Lucky for him I would say – and so would he. For some of us it happens way before we turn 90 – for example HG and I have 3 sons, and all of them have been giving their dad advice for years! In his slowly maturing middle years he still retains a smidgen of Alpha Male status occasionally when asked by the three fledglings about such things as career related concerns or other more serious matters ……. like how to tie a tie. It’s these times he knows he’s still got it – he’s Alpha Male thanks to experience, maturity, and a determination to not let the little wazzocks think he’s lost it. But time goes fast, and as it does you remember how important it is to retain a sense of humour and remind yourself that what your offspring don’t realise just at the moment is that before they can say Jack Rabbit they will be in the same boat themselves – pretending to listen to their own children’s advice (if you’re lucky)!
There are five of us siblings ….. three girls, and two boys and collectively we have 12 beautiful, talented, clever, kind and independent children the eldest being 36, and the youngest 20. There are also 4 precious grandchildren – all boys …… my 90-year-old father’s GREAT Grandsons. We siblings were born in two lots …. a five-year gap between us. Lot 1 were the ‘older ones’ (two sisters and one brother), and Lot 2 the ‘wee ones’ (my cute wee brother and me). Lot 1 were responsible for housework, being mature, and occasionally being bad so that my younger brother and I looked good and angelic in comparison – something they didn’t have to work too hard at as we were naturals. And of course, our job as ‘wee ones’ was to not let them down – so, perfect we aimed to be and were mostly successful in being! We learnt when to quiver our bottom lip in order to get something we wanted, and when to pretend we didn’t understand what they were talking about to avoid doing something we didn’t want to do. Doing no wrong was a huge responsibility – one that my cute wee brother coped with rather well, until I gleefully pointed out one day, to anyone who would listen, that he’d been sick out his bedroom window ……. bet he’d been into Dads whiskey!
Our father’s job was to feed his two lots – and feed his two lots through long hard worked days, and endless weeks he did. Often working two jobs and weekends as well, he also managed to build a home on a hill for us – a home to this day I want to go back to, nestle into my childhood and just be. 12 Janice Place, phone number 849039. ‘Older ones’ sisters shared the end bedroom, then either me and my cute wee brother shared the bunk-room – or ‘older ones’ brother and my cute wee brother shared it, at which time I got the small lilac wallpapered bedroom – all to myself ….. just moi …..sigh!
I remember nothing but a happy carefree childhood – walking to school five minutes further on up the hill, the smell of my Dad’s pipe on his handkerchief (which I used to borrow to wipe the sniffle when the lip quiver was required), the endless sunny sound of Grey Warblers singing, hanging out with my best buddy Christine who lived next door, waking up to the blissful sound of our neighbors lawnmowers every Saturday morning ……….. and coming home from school to a clean house (thank you ‘older ones’ sisters xx). I do remember making one mistake, however. I mentioned our Dad built 12 Janice Place in his ‘spare’ time between multiple jobs so…you can hardly blame him for yelling at me after picking all the putty off his newly installed windows. Then again, you can hardly blame me for thinking he’d put the Plasticine in a funny place.
Our father over the years and when time allowed, played in various bands – he played the drums. I remember being fascinated with the Tea Chest Bass he had stored in the garage of our new home. I never got to hear it being played very often, but to this day the Double Bass is my favourite musical instrument. You can imagine how excited I was to see the Double Bass being played at my nephews wedding just recently! I felt a bit silly when in my excitement I realised I was telling said Bass Player all about my father’s Tea Chest Bass – it was one of those moments when part way through talking out loud you suddenly realise what you’re saying is not quite so exciting to the person you’ve chosen to tell so you try and embellish the story with more information which you realise is going nowhere – and bless him, he’s trying to look interested. It is not unusual for this to happen to me, but it doesn’t often happen when talking to such esteemed musicians. To be fair though, apart from our father, I don’t often talk to esteemed musicians (although I did recently say a few words to Marlon Williams in Customs at Christchurch Airport ….. such a lovely man!)
Just nicely the five-year gap between our father’s two lots has got considerably smaller of late. My siblings are blessed with plenty of brains, beauty and brawn which together with their considerable humour and kindness keeps us all, no doubt, young at heart including our 90 year old Dad.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD X