Today, Sunday 2nd September is Father's day in the land of oz. Most of it has been spent in the garden. DrummerBoy came back from his house sitting to mow and the place looks green, trim and sunny. I whipper snipped and poisoned the weeds and made the pool sparkle. All in all, a great day to spend the late afternoon sitting in our freshly mown environs, enjoying the sunset and reflecting.
Sadly, none of us have fathers. DrummerBoy and ClareBear's passed before they even had time to know him. And mine died five years ago this coming 6th October. I don't visit their graves. I don't want to remember them like that and I don't think they would want to be remembered that way. I know CastleBrook Lawn Cemetery will be scattered with floral tributes and sad families today but I want to sit in 'his' garden and drink his health . . because now, he is enjoying good health and happy times . . . or so I like to believe.
One of the last conversations I had with my father was while I was massaging his frail hands. He was in the late stages of metastatic liver cancer and fading fast. We discussed what tales those square "Irish Mitts" could tell about his 73 years on this earth.
As tiny hands many years go, they held the handle bars of a bicycle when he would reluctantly deliver bread from the family bakery. They held pieces of shrapnel, traded like swap cards as childhood trophies during the Blitz.
They weilded a mighty lacrosse stick during his years at Grammar School and turned the pages of chemistry and textile texts during his years at University.
These tired, and rough old hands once clasped the hands of another, his one and only love, our mum. They have wrapped his four children and seven grandchildren in their embrace and occasionally left their imprint on a few deserving backsides. They rested assertively on boardroom tables, laboured in five gardens, pulled thousands of weeds, repaired metres of fence and pruned tonnes of hedgerows.
They have slapped the kitchen table in heated discussion and firmly shaken the hands of friends and acquaintances. They made toboggans and assembled bicycles even led reluctant horses to pony club.
Dad's hands had masterfully guided his favourite Waterman Pen through thousands of Herald crosswords and fumbled clumsily with a computer keyboard. They have firmly gripped many a glass of scotch and wine, even whilst he dozed in front of the TV they never fell from his vice like grip.
They have gently clasped a golf club and driven a hole in one and clutched the odd trophy. They reached long and often into the lolly tin, plucking a handful for his grandchildren, and long and often into his deep pockets to subsidise his own children's mad exploits.
With these same hands, he consoled us through our personal trials, applauded our achievements, celebrated our milestones and softly pushed us forward. They were the hands of a gentle giant, a loving husband, dad and grandpa and I miss their touch.
And to all the dads today:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
and . . .as Great Grandad Patrick used to say . . . may you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live . . . Happy Father's Day!