“It was all about rebellion”, my Dad once said to me. “Moving away from what’s expected”.
The things my father said
Would make me a better man,
Hard work and the love of friends
A woman that understands.
My dad was born in 1944 while Europe was still in War. It’s funny how people still continued to find ways to live with love and hope while madmen proceeded to kill millions and spread fear.
And once the war was done, the children of the war/post war became the twenty year olds in the 1960s, looking for a different kind of freedom and trying to find their place in life. They didn’t have the fear to live their lives to what others might think they should.
My Dad crossed oceans on a ship to come to Australia, even after his Dad threatened to kill the whole family if he left. He didn’t have to leave, he was comfortable but “then again no one ever accomplished anything from their comfort zone”.
When he arrived in Australia, he was close to death from sea sickness and when they made land in Melbourne, he was pale and waif like.
We lived in the best neighbourhood, surrounded by beaches and steel factories. We didn’t knock down or rebuild, we maintained what we had. The corrugated iron roof was rusted and leaking, so Dad changed that with terracotta tiles. Inside, the walls looked a bit tattered so dad went to work replacing those walls as well. Little did we know that the fibro on the walls contained asbestos. We broke it, stamped on it, played with it and what not. Not ideal knowing what we know now, however that’s how it was.
But when it came to food and entertainment, there was no limit. My dad was a muso and made decent money from it. For a few years in the 80’s he was making more money playing than working overtime in the steel factories. He would come home, I would count his cash and then he’d give me a $20 note for my efforts of counting. I went straight to Rings Music World or I kept it safe until the weekend markets, so I could buy vinyl.
And my dad is funny. He always looked for humour in life, plus he liked to get on the drink. But when it was time to get serious, he was. Fearfully serious. I feared him because as a kid growing up, I hardly saw him. He was too busy working and bringing money home to keep the roof over our heads. It wasn’t until I got older that I built a relationship with him.
When I got my license, Dad said I could drive his van, as long as I woke up early to take him to work and that I was home between 3pm to 3.30pm, to take his call and he would tell me if he was either finishing at 4pm and to pick him up, or he was working overtime and that he would call again at another time he selected for pick up. I know it sounds complicated but it worked.
For me, waking up at 6am to take him to work was no different to waking up at 7am. The “being at home” in the afternoon to wait for the phone call was hard (especially during summer) and this was in the era of pre-mobiles, so you HAD to be home to take the phone call.
One time I wasn’t home, so Mum took the call and Dad said to pick him up at 4pm. But she couldn’t pass on the message to me, because this was the pre-mobiles era and she didn’t know where I was. So Dad waited and when I was a no show he walked home. I got home at 5.30pm and Dad was there. My heart sank. He looked angry, disappointed and afraid.
“Are you okay, I was worried”, he said.
I replied back I was fine and started to stutter a response. He said there was no need to talk, he’s just happy that I’m safe.
He didn’t care for my reasons and to be honest I don’t really remember why I wasn’t home. It wasn’t for any earth shattering life altering experience.
And the stroke in February, 2006 should have killed him and if it didn’t kill home it should have paralyzed him according to the Doctors. But it just took his speech. He still rises each morning, drives, wipes his own arse and smiles when he sees his family.
And for some reason today “Things My Father Said” from Black Stone Cherry and “Father, Mother, Son” from The Scream played. And it got me thinking about Dad.