Great Fathers {Sunshine Sundays}

Good morning. It’s Father’s Day in Australia. If you need to whizz to the shops and buy roses for your special father, then do it NOW before they are up. You may even have time to make a coffee for him, before he’s out of bed…

I think I will do the coffee thing for my husband. He’ll like that.

I would like to say that as far as fathers go, my girls are pretty lucky. When I quizzed my daughter what she would like to write in her mini book about her dad, her poem went something like…

All The Ways I Love My Dad

I love my dad because he’s special.

I love my dad because he’s so kind.

I love my dad because he’s beautiful.

I love my dad because he sings lovely songs. 

I love my dad as big as a big watermelon. That’s how big I love my daddy.

As big as her four-year-old frustrations and her temper tantrums can be, they are no match for the biggness of her love for her dad. She tells me, when she is feeling particularly warm and generous towards me, that she loves me as much as she loves Dad, and that is an incredible lot. She reaches her hands as wide as they can possibly go to show how big the love is.

At night, my daughter has a game she invented before bed. It’s called the ‘clappy game’. Basically, the clappy hands have to decide who’s taking her to bed. She positions Gregor and me at either end of the living room, and proceeds to clap. The little clappers head towards the parent of choice, and the decision is made.

Mostly, the clappies head towards their dad. If they head my way, it’s usually because she feels bad the clappies usually choose Gregor. And often, once I am lying down with her, she’ll whisper, ‘Actually, I really feel like having Dad.’ She doesn’t want to hurt my feelings, but then I can’t deny they have a special connection.

‘It’s ok, sweetie,’ I whisper back.

The fact is, he loves his girls so purely and so simply. He oozes love for them from every pore of his body. She knows this.

Maybe it’s a learnt thing. Maybe it’s hereditary, his way of loving.

His grandfather, Opa, loved him like that. Pure. Simple.

Gregor talked about his early memories of feeling loved by his grandfather, and I am sure that affection is at the root of Gregor’s self-esteem and self-love.

When we visited Opa in Austria a couple of years ago, I watched Gregor sit with his grandfather. ‘Ja, Ochi,’ he would say softly, tenderly, as his grandfather recounted tales of his youth. He held his grandfather’s hand in his.

When we said goodbye, my husband’s eyes welled with tears. Opa sang – an Austrian mountain song. We all cried.

Opa passed away in July. The news wasn’t a shock – he’d been sick. But it never makes sense when someone leaves the world, no matter how old or sick they are.

How can he not be here anymore?

I only met him a couple of times. He didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak German. But his presence in our sunshine lives was so strongly felt. Most mornings, he came up in conversation during breakfast. ‘This is Opa cheese,’ my four-year-old would say, referring to the blue vein.

She frequently drew pictures for Opa.

I’d print off photos of the girls to send to him, or make him albums or videos of things we had been doing. He’d ask for one of me too, and tell Gregor how lucky he was to have found me.

Now he’s not there to send them to.

It’s not just talk of Opa that fills our house, though. It’s his love.

It seeped into Gregor, from when he was a little boy living in Austria, through to the last conversation he ever had with his grandfather a few days before he passed away.

Opa was generous in a way I’ve known few people to be. Maybe it was living through horrific times, war, famine etc.

Maybe he was just wired like that. But he kept giving.

Thankfully, generosity, like love, is hereditary.

The happiest people I know are the most generous

And through Gregor, Opa has taught me too to be generous. It’s not my default position, but surrounding myself with the likes of Gregor and the presence of his grandfather has made me not even question the biggest selfless act.

Maybe because there is a simple equation. Being generous makes you happy. Or maybe you need to be happy to be generous. Maybe both.

Opa’s physical presence has left the world. On the day he died, my daughter told me Opa’s very flat now, and living on a star. But his kindness and generosity are in Gregor, in me, in the girls.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to get so sentimental. Father’s Day does funny things to the brain.

Please, link up your ‘father’ post, or share anything you would like to on the topic, either in the linky, in the comments or on social media at #sunshinesunday.

Happy Father’s Day. Love and be generous today. xx

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Somebody’s baby

It is nearly Christmas. A girl drives home from the coast. The afternoon sun sears through her window. It scorches the seats. She hasn’t eaten since morning. Her eyes ache as she tries to keep them open. The car swerves. The western sun comes through the window, and she slumps against the steering wheel as the car hits a tree.

She was somebody’s baby.

A boy is backed into the corner of the playground – playground. Four boys creep closer. Taunting. Poking. Jeering. He cowers and pees his pants.

He is somebody’s baby.

A girl lies in her mother’s lap. Her stomach no longer yearns for more; she knows there is none. Her mouth is crisp dry. Her mother weeps as she holds her closer.

She is somebody’s baby.

It is nearly Christmas. Twenty children sit down in chairs. The alphabet is tacked to the board in front of the classroom. Books and coloured posters line the walls. They didn’t know the sound of gun-fire before today – how it ruptures everything. And nothing else can be heard.

They were somebody’s babies.

The boy, laden with weapons, turns the gun towards himself.

He was also somebody’s baby.

A two-month baby lies on her change mat, staring up at her mother – her eyes bright, reflecting glimmers of light from the window. Her face breaks into a smile, a smile that begins in her eyes and lands in her mother’s heart.

She is somebody’s baby.

She is my baby.

I stare back into those bright eyes and thank every possible planet, star…atom in the universe for this precious gift that lies before me. My other baby, now tall enough to hug my legs, leans against me, and I breathe in her warmth.

I savour every moment. And thank every star. Again and again and again.

I light a candle tonight for my darling friend Margot who died in a car accident nine years ago and for those beautiful souls who died in the massacre last Friday. This candle burns also for all the babies in the world, who suffer, have suffered and to all the parents of these beautiful children. They are all somebody’s baby.

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