Although Father’s Day was two days ago the signs are still up everywhere I look. Barbecue dads are in luck this year and so are handyman dads. Well apart from the jocks and socks and the occasional bottle of after shave what else is there? Okay, there’s booze and shirts. That’s what my dad looked forward to each year. But other than that no one knows quite what to do with dads. They’re not into flowers or chocolates and home spa treatment products and bunny slippers aren’t their thing. One major store is trying to change the male mindset. It thinks that dads would be pleased to find a steam mop next to their breakfast tray. The dads I know are much more active around the house than their own dads were but I’m sure that they would be no more thrilled than their partners to receive a practical gift.
It’s been five years since I had the chance to buy my dad a bottle of scotch. The bottle shops are offering two bottles for the price of one. It’s ‘IOU day’ they say, or ‘how much do you love your dad this Father’s Day’ day. On Father’s Day we can love our dads twice as much as the rest of the year. I took advantage and bought myself two bottles raising a glass or two to my dad.
I think about my dad and his pink shirts. He had scores of them in different shades of pink. I have no idea why dad liked the colour but he did, so I alternated the booze and the shirts. The scotch didn’t last as long as the shirts that wore he wore to death. They hung in the cupboard next to the pin striped suits and colourful ties. Dad loved dressing up; that meant a suit, a tie and cuff links for the shirt. On casual occasions, he looked equally resplendent in slacks, a shirt and a pullover. I couldn’t convince him that denim would be more comfortable.
Apart from the denim, Dad was the progressive type who didn’t let his venerable age get in the way of his passion for learning new things. Unlike his wussy daughter, dad embraced whatever the 21st century had to offer. He loved computers and took like the proverbial duck to water to the internet, reading newspapers online, exchanging risqué jokes with friends by email and researching his past.
On Father’s Day I saw two women, sisters I think, sitting with their dad at a table near me. It wasn’t a restaurant or cafe-but a pie and pastry shop at my local shopping centre. He should come here when he was on his own, they told him; I suspect that it was often. He looked around ninety so these bleached-blond beauties must have been in their seventies. He was beautifully dressed up in a blue suit, they were shabby and one of them must have pets, because she looked as if she could use a good brush down. When they came to his door, that would have been his first indicator that they weren’t about to shout him an afternoon tea at the Windsor. They got him a cup cake and cautioned him not to eat it all at once. He promptly got stuck into it. My guess is that he’d fasted in expectation of a spread and was hungry. The three were at that table for about twenty minutes. The girls talked to each other the whole time when they weren’t fiddling with their phones. Then they got up and whisked him off home where, one of them said as if they’d arranged it personally, that he’d be back in time to watch the footy, and wasn’t that nice. I sat there stunned and kicking myself for the coward I was to have avoided a much needed confrontation.
I guess their indifferent attitude is more in tune with today’s climate than mine. Father is no longer the sole breadwinner and he no longer knows anything let alone what’s best. It must be bewildering for today’s dads to wake up one morning and discover that a local primary school has banned the only day where they still played an important role even if it was only for retailers. A local primary school is banning Father’s Day and implementing a parent’s day instead. Dads are no longer considered a necessary part in their children’s lives or an influence for good. Single mothers and same sex couples arranged this ban because they feel the need to be included. My dad who was the most inclusive person I know, would have been cut to the quick. If he were here he would be asking why it was necessary to exclude dads in order to acknowledge same sex couples. Couldn’t they do both, he’d want to know? Aren’t there enough other days in the year to choose from, he’d ask? It seems that my father’s live and let live philosophy is old hat and as in the past as he is.
I raise my glass to you dad on Father’s Day and any other day of the week that I think of you and I think of you often. Wherever you are now, I want you to know that you were a positive influence in my life and I couldn’t have done it without you.