Today is 4 May and the day for me to remember my Father’s birthday. As I reflect on the man I called Dad and the stories he used to tell about his childhood, I realise there are many things, important things, I don’t know about him. The most important thing lacking in my knowledge is his birth place. I grew up knowing he spent his childhood in a small New Zealand town called Wairoa, where his father worked as a hotel chef. I’d always assumed that’s where he was born, but now I think this move by his parents came after he was born.
Dad lived in an era so different from the world today. His childhood stories told of making ice-cream by hand, churning it in a vat, enabling he and his brother to earn a penny to go to the movies. He learned to swim by being thrown into the river beside the hotel his family lived in. His story told how the bottom of the river bed contained so much broken glass from the drunken hotel patrons throwing their empty bottles into the water he dare not put his feet down. It really was a matter of sink or swim.
Even adult life differed from the life we lead today. During their courtship my parents went on picnic outings in large groups for many years before getting married. They brought up a family without all the modern technology of today.
Like all little girls, I had a soft spot for my father. I think of him when times are tough. I hope he’ll feel proud at how I lead my life.
I do have regrets though, that I never spoke to my father more about his life. So many questions are left unanswered, little things about everyday things in his life. I thought I knew my father when he was alive, now I realise how little I really understood the important things in his life.
For anyone reading this, don’t leave it too late to find out more about our parents’ lives. Talk to them, ask them questions, encourage them to talk. One day you’ll realise how important your parents past is to understanding who you have become.