My Dad adopted me when he married my Mum. We came as a pair. I was still very young, under two years old, so Dad has always been my dad. I didn’t know any differently until I was told several years later. There is no way I would ever have guessed as I was never treated any differently to my two younger sisters.
This week as Fathers’ Day approached I’ve reflected on some father-daughter memories that make me smile. Here are a few random ones. Dad, forgive me if my memory is not entirely accurate.
The first is learning the name of every tool that Dad used while I watched him work – when I was 3 or 4 years old I think. We lived in a house that needed everything done to it. Apparently at one time we had to go up a ladder to bed until the staircase was re-built. I can remember knowing all the names of the different saws, but I didn’t retain that information in years to come.
Dad used to make up stories when it was his turn to put us to bed. Many, many adventure stories. Although I liked fairy stories, I loved adventure stories and Dad’s ones were great. I seem to remember space travel and aliens featured a fair bit.
We went on a holiday to Cumbria, visited Hadrian’s Wall and pretended to shoot at invading Scotsmen with invisible bows and arrows.
Dad used to go sea fishing at the beach on the Norfolk coast. I’d hope that I was up when he got home so I could watch him gut the fish. Often I wasn’t. I do remember watching him slicing open a big cod that had a plastic cup and other rubbish in its stomach.
One time a few years later Dad took my sister, Lucy, and I fishing. We went on Halloween night. The radio in the car was playing a spooky story on the way which freaked me out a little. When we got to the beach we were happy for a while, but I don’t remember lasting very long in the dark before starting to ask to go home. It gets cold on the beach at the end of October in Norfolk. Sorry Dad.
Another time, Dad took us to an air show at RAF Coltishall, not far from where we lived. We saw a Harrier Jump Jet take off vertically and hover over the air field. It was loud. Immediately after that I needed the toilet, badly. The queue for the Ladies was very long. I couldn’t wait so we had to leave the air show to find one. That was the end of that trip. Dad has not let me forget that one.
I love that though Dad had three girls we did a lot of non-girlie stuff.
He taught me to ride a bike.
For a time Dad was on the village council. At school I’d use that fact if someone upset me, ‘My Dad is Chairman of the Council so I’m going to tell him!’ I don’t know if I knew what being Chairman meant or what effect I expected that to have, and it didn’t make me very popular. I was proud of him though.
When we watched Doctor Who (when Tom Baker was the Doctor) and I hid behind the sofa terrified of Daleks, he’d say, ‘It’s not real Emma!’ He still says that, though I don’t hide any more.
On a holiday in Devon, Dad waded out into the sea, put me on his shoulders and then huge waves would break right over us. Great fun.
I wanted to sing so when I was about 8 or 9 years old Dad took me to choir. I think I was the youngest member. I sang with the altos. He sang bass (correct me if I’m wrong, Dad). It was on a week day evening – always felt like a treat if I got to do something when my sisters were in bed.
I remember the night that Dad told me I was too big to get a piggy back, back to my Nan’s house from the Torchlight Parade in Sheringham. That was a sad day.
If I asked Dad the meaning or spelling of a word, his standard answer was, ‘Look it up in the dictionary.’ I wasn’t always happy with that answer and didn’t always do it, but partly as a result of that I love words and remember spending ages flicking through the dictionary and discovering them. Thanks Dad.
Less successful was the, ‘Draw what you see’, advice on art homework.
For a while at high school I didn’t stay in school for lunch so I’d walk to his office in town and eat my lunch listening to BBC Radio 4 with him while he worked (he is a Graphic Designer).
Dad was self-employed, then he set up a business with a partner. He worked very hard, long hours, evenings and weekends sometimes. Over and over again he told me I couldn’t expect to walk into the job I wanted. He was right.
On a family holiday in Corfu, a week after I’d been healed of anorexia, Dad and I walked up through the olive groves to the little town of Paleokastritsa. It was a boiling hot day, yet I was itching to do something different to sitting on the beach. We got to a café at the top and had the most refreshing drink of pineapple juice I have ever tasted…
Of course we’ve had ups and downs as in any family relationship. My Dad has seen me at my best and my worst.
To this day Dad shows an interest in what we are up to and what we’re all doing. He helps where he can and is always ready with advice.
I have a choice.
There is or was a man who rejected me. I can think of him and wonder forever about why, or I can be thankful for the one who took me on, adopted me and treated me as his own child. That is what I do. I am so thankful that I get to call my Dad, Dad. It is a privilege to be his daughter.
And all that experience gives me a picture of the perfect Father. He knew about me long before my Mum or Dad ever did, and through all of my mess he drew me to Himself. This is something I thank Him for every day. I get to be a child of God, adopted into His family. He loves me, forgives me, he carries me, provides for me, teaches me, guides me and will always be with me. He is a good, good Father.
‘Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)’ Ephesians 1:7 The Message