Dad went to Australia and we sort of lost touch with him, except for letters on birthdays and Christmas. He died in 1993.
The old man came into my life when I was about 13. My mum was trying to make ends meet with 3 young kids and had met M, who was a solo dad, at church. Early on he took me and a couple of friends tramping up the Hackett, and he would also build go-carts out of old armchairs in which the neighbourhood kids could race down the hill.
|(photo of Hackett Hut taken from David Noble's blog)|
He married my mother when I was about 14.
He is a thoroughly good man who has always done the best he can. He applies the same high standards to all aspects of his life. Whether he was building a fence for a stranger or painting a deck for his daughter he would work to the same level. I did not know at the time but he went to extraordinary lengths to get my younger brother out of a hole involving debt, bad choices and dangerous company. That brother turned his life around with M's help and encouragement and is now a respected and sought-after leader in his field.
The old man is a Christian who lives from the conviction that a man must serve to be able to lead. He has led and served our family in equal measure, and we are all very grateful to him.
He also loves games. I already knew how to play chess before I met him, but he was and is a bit of a master. I've only ever beaten him twice, and the second time was days after he'd had a brain tumour removed, so probably doesn't really count (nah, it counts!).
He introduced us to Risk, Careers, Escape from Colditz, numerous card games and, later, Settlers of Catan.
In turn I showed him Commands & Colors: Ancients and Hannibal, which he enjoyed enough to order in from the US.
Anyway, he's about the best father you could hope for who's not actually your father, and we all love him about as much as you could love anybody.
Right now he's recovering from his third brain operation in a year and tomorrow he will learn what his options are with regards to future treatment. We all hope he can get through this. He's the kind of guy who can lose, but is never defeated.
I won't show him this post because he already knows how much I respect him, but it's sometimes therapeutic to put things into words even so.
Happy Kiwi Father's Day to all the dads out there, wherever you are in the world.