Dear Dad: An Open Letter.
It’s your 40th Father’s Day! That’s a lot of socks and hankies, so this year I wrote you a letter…
Some of my favorite memories are of growing up with you on the farm. Friday afternoons, when you’d pick the three of us girls up from school, grab a pizza, then head home and watch Graham Kennedy’s Funniest Home Videos. Then you’d let us stay up late to watch a movie and eat Cadbury’s Snack chocolate.
I guess it was sort of funny when we’d be watching something scary and you’d slam your hand on the floor with impeccable fucking timing during each tense scene and then roar with laughter when we’d all jump a foot.
You’ve always been the ultimate practical joker…
… waiting in a dark bedroom with one of your dinner plate-sized hands over the light switch.
… hiding behind doors and scaring the shit out of us.
… banging your hand on the side of any vehicle, making us think we’d backed into something.
… driving forward a few inches when we’d try to get back into the car after opening a gate.
… pretending to drop a glass as we’re about to take it.
… throwing eggs for us to catch without warning.
… making us touch electric fences… yes, you really did that!
But, you taught us well… watching your long-legged 6’4″ farmer’s body slip and slide like Scooby-Doo over the patch of kitchen floor I sprayed with starch that one time was (I’m semi-ashamed to admit) completely freaking hilarious.
And then there are all the happy driving memories…
… car cricket, summers with all the windows down and the music up. That 360 you did the morning I forgot the sheet music for my piano lessons…
… and remember that time we were driving home in the old green truck from the sheep sales with you? We were all asleep across the front seat (except you, obviously) when the windscreen shattered into a thousand pieces when a rock hit it. And then we drove the rest of the way home with wind blasting in our faces. That was fun.
However, the time you went around a corner in that same truck and the passenger’s door swung open, and I wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was not funny… well, okay, maybe it was a bit funny.
And the horse-riding…
… I know I took it for granted, but having horses to ride anytime was pretty special. We loved riding through the bush with you and rounding up stock. But getting on the back of half-wild horses with you? Not so much.
One of my favorite memories (I must have been five or six) is of galloping up the driveway with you on the back of Rumple. I remember holding on tight knowing that if I could keep hold of you, I’d be alright.
Even though these days I’m a vegetarian, it was fascinating watching you gut a sheep. I remember us girls sitting transfixed as you opened up the belly of that carcass which hung from the rafters of the shearing shed.
First the intestines came tumbling out, and then you showed us the liver, kidneys and heart. You blew air into the lungs to show us how they worked. You cracked open the skull to show us the brain, took out one of the eyes, let us have a close inspection, then set it down and told us you were keeping an eye on us. And we laughed.
Let’s be honest, I was a complete disappointment as a farmer’s daughter, wasn’t I? Driving trucks onto levee banks, tractors through fences and ride-on mowers over newly planted fruit trees. And on the rare occasions you managed to persuade me to go fox-shooting with you, I was rubbish at holding the spotlight still, partially because I was trying to use my shoulder to block my ear, and partially because I didn’t actually want you to shoot the fox.
And we had some blow-ups, didn’t we? Lippy, opinionated me, and (I’m guessing) frustrated, bamboozled you — we’d yell at each other, I’d start crying, you’d storm out, then go and drive the motorbike really fast around the paddock, checking stock.
Then you’d come back and say you were sorry, I’d say I was sorry. We’d both say I love you and hug, then everything would be roses. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.
We may not always have agreed or understood each other, but I’ve always been so proud to point you out and say, “That’s my dad.”
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You’re a golden horseshoe.
PS: It turns out you were right — I don’t know it all. But apparently my kids do!
Leonie Orton is a blogger who writes intimate stories about life. She is also a freelance copywriter and editor working with people and businesses that make the world a better place. She’s also a mother, flower-loving, get-her-hands-dirty-veggie-gardening, coffee-drinking, Yoga-teaching, sometimes swearing, adventurous and passionate woman of too many words. You can get in touch with her via her website and Facebook, or sign up at her weekly(ish) blog.