Happy Father’s Day!

Dad in the 50s

Dad in the 50s

I’m very lucky to have my Dad still around to keep me on the straight and narrow.  Or try to.  He has long observed that, “yes, you listen to what I say, but never do it!”  What can I say.  It’s in my nature to make my own mistakes rather than learning from his.  He loves me nevertheless. That’s what Dads do.

When I was a kid my parents had a beautiful backyard that was bounded by a perennial garden and my Dad was always moving plants around.  My Mom used to say the plants were afraid to put roots down because they’d just get moved.  It’s a British thing I think, this need to have a garden.  My Dad’s sister and brother in law had a modest townhouse in Leicester with a front yard filled with flowers and a backyard planted all over with a little strip of lawn and a swing for whimsy.  As a child visiting, I thought it an absolutely perfect backyard.  
 
Our yard in Canada by comparison at the time was gigantic.  Big trees surrounded by garden beds and a property backing on to a woodlot until the developer started “Phase 2”.  This was the first house they actually bought; all our previous homes were rented. My sister was married in the backyard; clematis on a trellis arbour for the ceremony … it was a beautiful backyard.
 
I never used to think of my Dad as a gardener, but he has a love of nature and its beauty, and I like to think it’s a gift he’s given me.  Years ago, reading about the legend of Grey Owl, that he was also an Englishman, with an admiration of First Nations’ affinity with nature, I sensed this was something my Dad shared–the self-reliance and sustainability of this way of living.  Although, being a Brit, a product of the depression, and compounded by the discipline of the stiff upper lip British Army, my Dad would never wax poetic musings on the subject.  He shared this philosophy in his usual understated manner: camping, life lessons, and more recently, his circumspect observations of life.  
 
My Dad, seems to me, to carry all that tucked in to a pocket.  You know how men compartmentalize things?  Well, British men of a certain age do that with a vengeance.  My Dad is in his 80s and this Father’s Day I want to tell him:  I love you more each passing year.  The benefit of my own aging has gifted a modicum of wisdom; the ability to see how one can go through life thinking, believing you have things figured out, and then finding when you get older that … well, what the fuck was I thinking?  And you can’t go back.  Your kids grow up and all you can hope is they don’t hate you, or are messed up, or agonizingly, more than anything: Are they happy?  
 
Growing things makes me exquisitely happy.  Seeing a sprout break through the soil and becoming what it is.  A row of seedling beets, lettuce, or swiss chard.   A tiny pot sprouting an heirloom tomato seedling, basil, or squash is so satisfying, I feel like Mother Earth herself.  Being close to nature is an appreciation gifted to me by my Dad through decades of camping and gardening.  Living in a condo he doesn’t move plants around a garden anymore, but a walk in the park and appreciating the results of my efforts clearly offers some satisfaction.
 
Fathers Day is meant to remind us how important is the role of a Dad in the life of a child.  The simple lessons of life and people, feeling the love of another different from Mother.  I’m so grateful to have a wonderful, loving Dad who has taught me so much, and loves me regardless of the flaws that remain despite a lifetime of screwing up and advice.  I love you, Dad.
 
 

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About Leslie Stallard

Trying a little bit of everything: writing, learning Wordpress & basic coding, cooking, playing with grandkids, travelling, gardening, making soap & body treats, and getting older. Not necessarily in that order.