Yesterday we celebrated Father's Day.
I realise how lucky I am that my relationship with my father has prospered over the years, though it was not always that way.
My father and I both share a strong will, which at times had us locking horns - especially during my adolescence.
Distance made our hearts grow fonder when, at the age of 21, I moved to London. During the second year of my stay, Dad came to visit me (pictured above) and we had a great time being tourists together. I found it wonderful to connect with him in a way that was foreign to me and made me feel 'grown up'.
At the end of my two-year sojourn, I left London to live in the South Australian country town of Gawler (between Adelaide and the Barossa Valley) for a further six years before returning to Melbourne aged 29. Being on the cusp of the big 3-0, I thought I was well and truly grown up (haha, how wrong I was). So you could imagine how utterly perplexed I was to find myself behaving like I was 15 again.
I distinctly remember looking into the mirror and asking myself "What are you doing? Why are you being like this?". Somehow I had regressed. What happened between London and returning home?
I figured that being in new surroundings was like a clean slate. There's no history, no triggers and you can create something new - a bit like building a new home. Find a patch of land and start from scratch.
However I had come home to a place that was steeped in history, old patters, triggers and reactions. My teenage behaviour was as shocking to me as walking into a house with original mission brown cupboards and lime green Formica bench tops - it was SO OUTDATED. I needed to renovate and refurbish my relationship with father.
From that moment I got to work. I started peeling off the wallpaper - the facade of what I saw my father to be, and revealed the human being beneath. I saw a little boy who grew up to be a man. I sensed someone who had dreams and disappointments, elation and sadness, courage and fear, loneliness and joy, mistakes and triumphs. Someone not at all too different to me.
We expect so much from our parents and I don't think many of us stop and realise they are just human beings. We are particularly unforgiving of their shortcomings, especially in relation to us, our family and upbringing. We expect them to be faultless, and yet we begrudge anyone else having such unrealistic expectations of us.
So today, post Father's Day, I'd like to make a special tribute to my dad.
Dad, thank you for not being so hard on me as I have been on you. Thank you for forgiving me, loving me and accepting me, despite my many erroneous ways. Thank you for giving me a second, third, fourth and fifth chance (and any more I may have missed). Thank you for enabling our relationship to grow. I am so proud of you, for all your inventions, your creative solutions and all that you have achieved. You are a genius, you are my hero, and I love you.
Until tomorrow, remember that your parents are human beings and we didn't come with an instruction manual.