A letter to my dad on Father's Day

Kinderling News & Features

Dear Dad,

I know that you and Mum are private people, not big on public expressions of emotion. But you’ve had over forty years to get used to me, your youngest, so I figure I can get away with at least one letter like this to you (and Mum had to deal with it on Mother’s Day … so you know, fair’s fair).

I could thank you for a million things, but here are just a few that come to mind for me this Father’s Day.

Letters to Ecuador

When I was seventeen, I went on a student exchange to Ecuador. Back then (in the early 90s), even the guy at the post office didn’t know where Ecuador was. But you and Mum let me go, and then worked out the best way to support me while I was there.

You were wasted at the Commonwealth Bank. I’m sure you made a big difference in international financial markets, but none of those big wigs ever got a letter from you describing a summer afternoon in the suburbs of Carlingford.

In true form, you researched the best way to send me mail (in an aerogramme so the stamps wouldn’t be stolen) and you sent one every week. I still don’t know how I managed to read your doctor’s handwriting, but eventually you started typing so it would be easier for me to read.

Your letters were the most consistent and stable thing in a chaotic, exciting and challenging year.

Each week, my host family would drive into town and we would stop by the post office. That cold metal post box was a little pocket of comfort for me. I always dreaded it would be empty, but it never was, thanks to you.

Fixing all the things

If something needed to be done, you would fix it. From getting my tonsils out, to getting my eyes lasered, to paying my rego when I’d forgotten to do it. You never asked for thanks, just silently going about getting things done, like an invisible safety net always stretched out to catch me.

You never stopped me calling you at work with questions about some menial uni-related crisis. Even when I interrupted a frenetic, high-pressured day you never sounded cross, and you always helped me with whatever needed doing.

Now that I have kids of my own, you’re still coming to my rescue when I need you most. You’re basically a superhero.

Teaching me the value of a good spreadsheet

Being a superhero, one of your greatest powers is making a good spreadsheet. There’s nothing quite like distilling a heap of overwhelming problems into a few columns in Excel.

Thanks to you, I managed to organise my wedding to within an inch of its life. Holidays, budgets and Christmas presents are now in the bag, thanks to this life-changing skill.

Even Daniel (my husband) is secretly grateful.

Preserving all our memories in photo and video

It feels like you have documented every moment from my birth, to those of my children. And while I wish some of those photos would disappear (the one you took after I had my wisdom teeth out comes to mind, as do basically every photo between 13 and 17), I love those photos.

They evoke memories of all the amazing things we’ve done together as a family. I love looking through them, and I know the kids love looking at them too.

My only regret is that you are so often behind the camera, instead of in front of it.

Showing me what a loving and supportive partner looks like

When we were growing up, you worked incredibly hard. You were gone around 7am and home around 7pm. But every Friday you would arrive home with a bunch of flowers for Mum.

We always knew that if Mum said no, dad would say no too. You were a united front.

There were other small things, like the way you dance together at weddings, your cards on anniversaries, and the way you still do so much together.

Being in a marriage now with children, I understand how much work this kind of relationship takes. You’ve shown me what it looks like to have a loving and supportive partner, and this helped me find my own.

To hear Shevonne's dad talk about how to keep your relationship strong listen to this episode of Kinderling Conversation:

Proving that living an honest and generous life is worthwhile

There are so many things I love about you, Dad. There are the little things. Like how you make Mum a gin and tonic on a Friday night, how you smile at my kids when they’re laughing, how you ask me how I’m doing (and really care about the answer).

But there are big things too. Like being a role model who shows us what it is to live an honest and generous life.

I blame you for my inability to lie. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If you don’t lie to other people, you can’t lie to yourself, and that’s helped me feel more comfortable in my skin the older I get.

You are also (along with Mum) incredibly generous. Together you go out of your way to help others. You let people stay in your home, you travel great distances to bring comfort to others. And you never ask for thanks, and would never sing your own praises.

But it’s Father’s Day, and you’re my dad, so I’m going to sing your praises.

Thank you for everything you have given me, and continue to give me, Dad.

I love you.