My dad had sideburns like Elvis Presley, with a voice to match. He loved a VB, a cigarette and a good steak. He had soft eyes and a strong hand shake and when he spoke to you, you felt like you were the only person who existed.
He had the innate ability to be supportive without being overbearing. He gave his time and knowledge without expectation and listened with non-judgemental ears. He had large hands and thin arms that were deceiving, because when he hugged you, it felt as though he could squeeze the life out of you.
In his short 54 years, my Dad achieved many great things. If you were to ask him his greatest achievement he would, without hesitation, have told you it was his family – my remarkable mother, older sister, younger brother and myself. This, to me, is the epitome of a wonderful Dad. It was clear to each of us that we always came first. Always.
Father’s Day is a tough day for those of us who have lost our Dads. It’s a slap-in-the-face kind of reminder that the person who should be the recipient of well thought out gifts and never-ending cuddles is no longer there. That seat is empty.
I think the most important thing to help get you through, particularly on days like these, is to keep them alive in your own way.
In the eleven years since my Dad passed away, six grandchildren have been born. The eldest is ten and the youngest is two and each of them know exactly who he is. They know the direct path that leads to his grave at the cemetery and when there, they hop up, kiss his photo and help arrange the flowers. Four grandsons and two granddaughters who, despite never having the privilege of knowing him in life, all love their Nonno.
I still miss my Dad. Every single day. I miss the way he used to tell me to sit in the path of the sunlight coming through the kitchen window. I miss the way he stirred his coffee about a hundred times before tapping the spoon against the mug three times when he was finished stirring. I miss the laugh that rattled in his chest and the way he used to fidget with his chin when he was nervous.
As the years have gone by, I still see him everywhere. I see him in my brother’s eyes – as he ages, the resemblance in both looks and personality are uncanny. I see him in my sister, who has his strong morals, cheekbones and undying devotion to his favourite coffee mug. I feel him all around my Mum’s home, through pictures displayed and memories shared. I feel his legacy tattooed all over me and some days, I swear to God I can smell his aftershave in the air.
As I get older, I feel as though every moment of unbearable sadness is coupled with immense gratitude. I am so lucky that for 23 years, I had a Dad who taught me life lessons that will never be forgotten. Lessons that I am now trying to teach my own children.
Above all, my Dad’s death has taught me this – there will be moments in life that are hard, but you don’t have to be defined by them. Take those moments and run with them, because there is always a lesson to be learned and at the heart of that lesson is a gift.
So, even through the sadness of another Father’s Day without him, I can’t think of any greater gift than this – I had a wonderful Dad. A man who was – and still is – adored and loved beyond measure by the ones that he loved most. In my eyes, I can’t think of anything better than that.
Happy Father’s Day.
If your Dad/Father figure is no longer here, please feel free to write your Fathers day message below… xxxx