On the 26th of April 1942, my father was born. Today is his 73rd birthday.
Watching him dozing on the sofa beside me, I see the man that worked so hard to provide for his family. I see the man that made sure we were never without. He, along with my mom, made sure that I saw the very best orthodontist to rectify the problems with my teeth, and endeavoured to see it through to the end. All the long journeys, the surgeries, the overnight hospital stays. On top of that, they always had a new gift to cheer me up at the end of it and help aid my recovery.
I shudder to think of the expense of my treatment, but they never once mentioned the cost of it all.
I see dozens of images of my dad flash through my mind. Memories of him driving, sitting in the garden reading the newspaper, laughing with my mom, timekeeping at the swimming galas that my sister and I used to attend, adding another sticker to his growing collection on the back of his 4×4, deciding which hat he will wear from his hat collection, falling asleep on the sofa, working at his desk until 4am, the list goes on…
I remember the first time I saw my dad cry. I had gone into surgery for my teeth, but the doctors hadn’t detected that I had pneumonia and it caused complications with the surgery. I wasn’t waking up from the anaesthesia and my parents were worried I wouldn’t wake up at all. I eventually woke in the early hours of the next morning, and when I did, there he was waiting for me to wake up. I will always remember how he walked over to me with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, a look of such relief at the knowledge that I was going to be okay. I can’t imagine having woken up without him there with those tears in his eyes.
I realise that I don’t know everything about my Dad. Born in England, his family left for Africa in his teens. Some of his life was lived in the likes of Kenya, where he was a part of the Kenyan regiment. He had a lot of stories to share about his days there where, I learned, he also used to race motorbikes. Apparently my old Dad was quite the rogue, always managing to get up to something. He later moved to South Africa and then finally to the country of my birth, Swaziland, where he founded a football team and raced rally cars with my mom. Later on he started his own company and worked day and night to try and make it a success and provide for his family.
I wish I could learn more about my dad, and the adventures he got up to at my age. I wish that I could sit and have a long conversation with him, laugh with him and learn from him.I wish I could thank him for everything he did for us. I wish it could be so, but it can’t…. My father has Alzheimers.
So, Dad, I may not be able to have a conversation with you, tell you about my day, get your advice or laugh and reminisce about the good old days…but I will always, always love you with all of my heart. Happy Birthday Dad, I love you.