Christmas, for as long as I can remember, was Dad in a silly hat, as opposed to his usual wide brim, under the tree, handing out the presents one at a time, then retreating out the back for a nice cold beer.
It is 5 years since he passed away, from a heart attack brought on by undiagnosed pneumonia, and I still haven't found anything to ease the hurt of Christmas without Dad.
So, I am putting my Tribute to Dad here, as my Christmas post.
He lived his whole life for his family, worked a job he hated, lived in a place he despised, and did all those things so that we would have a better life. Never complained, never let on that he was miserable. He wanted the best he could provide for us, right up til the end.
He wasn't perfect, far from it, he was a stubborn bugger (he was 63 when he died) and there was no way but his way, and if you did it any other way it was going to break down. He had some funny idea at times about who should do what (he and mum conflicted a lot over that one when we lived down South). But he was there when we needed him, he loved us regardless of our flaws and mistakes, and he endured tremendous heartache to achieve that.
He showed me the importance of always being true to yourself. The last time I saw him alive, was 8 days before he died. He was at the local supermarket, it was bucketing down with rain, a Friday night. He was in line at the checkout, and I walked in. Me, not thinking, hollered 'That's my Dad' and bounced across the supermarket to where he was. The sight of his 34 year old daughter acting like an overexcited 5 year old on seeing him, with no thought for how other people might view my behaviour, told him that I loved him. And his reaction told me he felt the same. I was just being me, and he loved me for it.
He showed me the importance of just being. We could sit for hours, not say a word, but have a wonderful companionship.
He taught me the importance of being able to tell a good story. Couldn't tell a joke to save his life (neither can I) but storytelling, now there was an art worth preserving.
He inspires me in that he made me realise how important it is to give your children a solid base, one they will have as long as you draw breath, and then beyond. Being able to offer support, without bias or judgement is very important, and makes for a wonderful relationship, if you can achieve it.
He showed me that loving someone, faults and all, can make them better people, even if you aren't around to see it. He loved my mother with all his heart, and she is a difficult woman, but since he has been gone, she has changed, more to what he was. His influence on her has reached it's strongest point, after he has left her.
He made me realise that you can only live according to someone else's needs for so long, at some point, you need to put yourself back into the #1 position. He died a happy man in that he knew his children would be OK, in that we are all capable of surviving whatever life may throw at us, but broken because he was living a life that didn't make him happy. He hated living here, but did it because it was what was needed for us, and Mum, to grow.
I loved my father immensely, miss him every day, and he will always be a huge influence on me, and how I deal with the world, and everyone in it.
There is no 'moral meaning' to this post - but please, if you take anything away from it, let it be that it is important to let those we love know how we feel, be it good, bad or indifferent. And always tell them you love them, be it in words or actions. It can all be over so fast......