On Wednesday night, I sat on my couch and started writing a blog post about my dad for Father’s Day.
Less than 12 hours later, I received a phone call to say he’d been rushed to hospital and was in intensive care after a suspected heart attack.
In that moment, my own heart almost stopped.
Because no matter what I call him and I’ve used many names over the years—Dad, Pete, Poiter, Big Pete and fantastic old bastard—I’m not ready to part ways with him just yet.
Thankfully, he’s now back at home and his heart—which many did not believe existed—is still ticking.
I’m fairly sure that even if it wasn’t, we’d have had to prop him up Weekend at Bernie’s style to watch next weekend’s Federal election, because there are few things he enjoys more than watching the election results roll in … especially when there’s tipped to be a change of government.
For those who don’t know him, my dad is a colourful character (to say the least); a rugby league player turned beer truck driver turned publican turned outspoken newspaper owner. He’s also a husband and (obviously) a dad.
He uses the f-bomb as an adjective and his blood runs red and white for the St George-Illawarra Dragons, even when they’re losing.
And when he finds something really funny, he claps his feet together like a back-to-front seal.
As a child, I remember regularly driving along the Western Freeway towards my Nana’s house at Goodna and together we’d always look for the donkey that lived on the hill before the Jindalee Bridge.
On most of these trips he would also sing ‘All My Loving’ by The Beatles to me.
Which is why if I were to fill a music box with my memories of the two of us, that is the song that would play anytime someone opened the box—and out would spring thousands of memories.
From him turning a small toy block of Cadbury chocolate into real, edible, block (I’m still sticking with my theory that it was magic) to his incessant videoing of our trip around Europe—including the day he was walking backwards filming us and tripped over a pop-up shop in Venice. It still cracks us up when we talk about it.
He scared the sh*t out of me on my first rollercoaster (“Smile, they’re taking a photo!”) and bought me a bunch of pink roses on my first Valentine’s Day after my boyfriend died, a small gesture but one that meant so very much.
Dad taught me to fish and to drive and helped me build my barbecue in the kitchen of our house. He’s been my protector, my punisher and my boss (how either of us survived that is a mystery to me!).
He was also the one who insisted I not buy property in my early 20s, instead encouraging me to travel far and wide. At the time I was frustrated and thought he was crazy, but now I realise that he wasn’t holding me back, he was giving me the world.
And I’ll NEVER forget the time he threw a tantrum after I beat him at Monopoly (and we have not played again so I’ll forever be the champion!).
We may not talk on the phone often (Hi Dad … is mum there?) but I know he’s there if I need him—like when he slipped extra money into my pocket before I left on my first overseas holiday or rushed me to hospital when he thought I had meningococcal.
He has always been nice to the boys I’ve brought home and stopped talking to others upon my instruction, even when he didn’t know why (Just because, Dad. Just because).
It is because of all of these things, and hundreds more, that I don’t mind that still calls me by my childhood nickname or greets my friends wearing nothing but his underpants and a work shirt (if you can’t handle that, then you best not come visit).
Because for all his quirkiness, craziness and sometimes grumpiness, he’s my dad; I share his passion, his fire and his inability to suffer fools. I can be stubborn like him and as silly as him.
So this post is dedicated to you, Dad.
Happy Father’s Day.
All my loving.
PS. Put down that kebab and have a piece of fruit!