Today is my Dad's birthday. He is 68 this year. You wouldn't know it from the way he leaps about in a swimming pool splashing water at his sons, daughter and grandkids, taking on hills and mountainsides with a determination that has not waned over the years.
Oh, he will tell you he can carry less weight, endure fewer consistent hours of work, needs more rest, and so forth. And I believe him. But he is probably only just coming back to the operating levels of a good portion of the population a third his age! Tomorrow he begins a huge bike ride, having just completed a multi-day hike.
Now I know he's my Dad and I am his only daughter, so there is a lot of room for magical belief in his god-like abilities and strength.
When I was much younger, I was kind of scared of him really. He had a temper that brewed for days and took days to cool down. But when we children did something wrong, he was clear about the issue and clear about the punishment. We knew where we stood.
Above all, I remember not wanting to disappoint my Dad. I knew he had my back so I wanted to show him that I was with him.
He is the person who has listened the most, expected the most of me, hurt me the most with his honesty and frustration – because eventually I did disappoint him, on a number of occasions. He is one of the few people I can always rely upon to tell me what he honestly thinks – always leaving room for me to make up my own mind and challenge my thoughts and feelings.
He taught me to value honesty and communication above all.
Over the years he has changed – some would say he is less intense. I perceive he holds back more from speaking the truth into the gaps these days. Instead, he listens more and more.
He is quick with a joke and a smile. He is great at picking up on energy changes in others. He lets people have their space and work things out for themselves – but he is almost always there with a ready hand if he is asked.
There are times though when he says no to helping when someone asks him. Those times he does so because he knows that the individual is able to work it out for themselves. He shows them that he believes in them – perhaps more than they believe in themselves. He requires them to step up and back themselves – because he knows it is the only way forward, and that it pays dividends for years to come.
That's my take on it anyway. I value the huge contribution he has made in my life. I know that he is there in the work I do today – encouraging others to believe in themselves, be honest, communicate and walk their own path rather than the path set out for them by society, their own parents/partners/friends.
Thanks Dad and Happy Happy YOU day.