My dad is a lovely, funny man. Brilliant, but a quintessential absent minded professor. He’s worked incredibly hard to get to the top of his field (aircraft design) despite having to leave school at aged 14. His dad died, so my dad had to get a job. He’s worked his way up from an apprentice engineer, to a world-renowned professor. Not bad!
He is incredibly generous, both with money and time, and he and mum have kindly put up with all of us moving back home for various stretches of time, by ourselves, or with spouse, and in my case, with my whole family. For about four months! They have an open door policy and are known for helping people any way they can.
Here he is, with me, in the very early 80s. he has a little less hair now, but essentially looks the same. I have a lot more hair now, and don’t wear too many romper suits.
Now ‘retired’, dad pretty much works every day anyway, but does now have more time to spend with his three (soon to be four!) grandchildren, who are his pride and joy. He is a superb grandparent and the girls all absolutely love him. He has somehow managed to avoid changing any nappies though! Such skills.
Dad has given us many laughs over the years. Here are some of my favourite memories:
1. Coming down stairs to the sound of toast being scraped as he’s burned it. Again. I feel like this happened every morning, but surely it can’t have! (I didn’t get my cooking skills from him.)
2. Making us sand aeroplanes and boats.
3. Getting my hair caught in the buttons of his leather jacket when I gave him a hug.
4. Carrying us on his shoulders or in a backpack. He swears that we used to pull his hair out and that’s why he’s bald.
5. ‘Helping’ him wash the car.
6. Much later, him rescuing us when our own cars break down. OK this isn’t much of a fun memory actually… but it could have been a lot worse!
7. Giving us little plots in the garden to grow stuff. And when we were older, letting us dig a pond. (It took ages. I don’t even know why we wanted one – it just turned into a muddy hole!)
8. Making us a summer house out of old bits and bobs of wood.
9. Reading us the same stories over and over and over again, and still doing funny voices every time.
10. Inventing things, or ‘fettling’ them. My sister’s and my favourite was the seat he made for our brother in our first camper van. Which collapsed, with Pete in it. Still laughing now.
11. Interesting tie and shirt combos. He creeps out with a sort of smirk and asks innocently “Is this OK?” It almost never is. And he knows it.
12. When I was a teenager, he put my glasses in a case, in a shoebox, under the stairs. He swore blind he hadn’t seen them. They turned up months later.
Aside from a load of brilliant fun, he’s also taught me and my siblings a lot. For example, I have a much-more-thorough-than-you’d-expect knowledge of aeroplanes. I’ve visited more aircraft factories than I can say, including McDonald Douglass and Boeing in Seattle. Most of them were really dull (to the point of crying with boredom) but Boeing was actually really cool. To an 11 year old.
He’s taught me to be careful with money and helped us a lot with various large, scary purchases like houses. He always has good advice.
My dad bought me my first power tool and taught me how to use it. I can put up shelves if I really have to.
He has also passed down some of his personality traits:
1. Love of a good hardware shop.
2. We both have an obsession with taking pictures of our families. Especially when they look ridiculous. (Sorry mum. And the rest of us.)
3. Good (mostly) financial planning. Apart from not adhering to this motto: Just because it’s on sale, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. We are both guilty of this.
4. Love of a bargain and vouchers. I go to great lengths to never pay full price if I can possibly help it. That’s definitely from my dad. He’d say it’s because he’s from Yorkshire but I think he’s just sensible.
5. I look quite a lot like him. Apart from the beard and lack of hair.
6. Buying and reading books. Lots and lots. He could start a library.
7. Hoarding. We are a family of hoarders, but what is particularly special about his style is that some of it is genuinely completely useless. The best example being the broken headlamp of a car we no longer owned. He is also a big fan of t-shirts. Which makes for easy presents!
8. Love of travel and interest in other cultures. He and mum let me go to India when I was 15. 15! It was a school trip, but still. Now I have daughters, I marvel that they trusted me that much!
The only thing he hasn’t managed to pass on to any of his offspring is an interest in science (apart from that one visit to Boeing). I sometimes think me must be a bit disappointed that we all turned out to be arty farty! Maybe it will skip a generation. With a sciency dad and grandpa, they can both try and instil some facts into the girls’ brains!
He showed me what it is to be a good husband and dad, and that definitely informed my choice of husband. They do say you marry your dad after all! But seriously, Ryan has many of the great traits my dad has, and it’s such a joy to see him playing with the girls and hear them chatting away to him.
So happy Father’s Day, dad and Ryan, the two best fathers I know.
I wrote a post about my lovely mum for Mother’s Day, which you can find here if you like.