When we were young, I was a bit in awe of Dad. I loved him dearly but I was also a little afraid of him; I was afraid of displeasing him because I knew he could get angry and shout and this scared me. However, I also remember a lot of love and warmth.
Dad would scoop us up and hug and kiss us. He was loud and larger than life in happiness as well as when cross. He had a great sense of humor. He loved to watch comedy TV, and although he was not a great reader, I do remember him reading Tom Sharpe books and laughing raucously to himself in the process. All that humor rubbed off on all three of us kids. My brother and sister are more comical and entertaining than I, but I love to laugh; life without fun and laughter would be alien to me.
My sister and I used to spend time grooming Dad. I can't remember him ever having a lot of hair but he always carried a comb and a nail file in a case. Early evening, we would all sit in the lounge and I can't remember how it started, if he asked us to do it or if we begged him to let us do it, but I do recall that combing dads hair and cleaning and filing his nails after his long hard day at work. This must have been a girls job because I don't recall David being involved in this process.
Dad would direct us on how to take the long piece of hair that grew from just above his forehead and distribute it to cover that round bald patch that was beginning to show in the center of his head. I can remember that strand being auburn early on, but definitely changing to gray then white as the bald patch grew larger and we all grew older. I never minded if I was on hair duty or nail duty; both jobs were greeted with words and groans of relaxation and appreciation and doing them gave me a sense of closeness to him and a kind of pride at being able to do something for him.
Dad was enormously proud of his family. He praised us to anyone who would listen and also in front of us. "I can take my kids anywhere, they're always well behaved."
Paula was the beauty queen and the entertainer. I can't deny being envious of this. She had fine long blonde hair and mine was mousy brown, thick and always kept short as it was easier to manage this way and mum believed it suited me best like this also.
David was encouraged in all sporting endeavors, particularly football and cricket and had a great bond with Dad, following the same teams and watching avidly with him at Crystal Palace ground, match of the day, Uncle Dave's cricket team...etc. etc.
Even with out real interest in football, I too would regularly go to Palace games. It was just a joy to spend time with him and be part of the atmosphere.
Some of Dad's complements had a double edge, stating what was true and factual to him. Although I know that the intention was to be 'grounded' and for me not to build up unrealistic hopes, I do recall finding these comments demoralising and demotivating. "Christine can draw really well anything that she is copying, like a picture or a photo, but she can't draw from real life or memory." and "Christine can read music and can play a bit on her recorder and her violin, but the violin sounds like a cat's choir, she's never going to be another Mozart."
As an adult, I would turn to Dad for advice and support and he was always there. The main thing I recall is that whatever age I was, there was always a strong, powerful hug and kiss whenever I saw him.
Dad died over seven years ago. At first I used to hear his voice at times. I still hear his voice if I imagine certain things, like him answering the phone...."2254"...or "Hello this is ........., massage parlor, how can I help you?" I can also hear his voice saying my name..."Christine Anne!" with a raised intonation at the end. But even without hearing his voice, the most important thing is that he is still with me every day of my life.
I do not have identical beliefs to him and I do not follow his ideas in everything that I do, however, I know that from him and of course from my mum too, I learned strong values. Dad taught me to value and respect money, to be careful with it and not to want too much or be too greedy for material things.
He taught me that loving your family and showing it is the most important thing you will ever do. He taught me that it's OK to be sentimental and that a man may cry and show his feelings and still be one of the strongest men I have ever known.
Copyright © 2010 Chrissie Parsons
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