Dad, today is your birthday. You would have been 90 years old, so this morning I toasted you with my first cup of tea. And because you have been on my mind all day, these words are for you.
Life with you was never dull, and being the happy-go-lucky person that you were, you swept us all along on that roller coaster ride of yours. You may not be in your earthly body anymore but your energy and lust for life is still here as strong as ever. How could anyone not have noticed you. So sure of yourself that you told your bride she would be your wife the very first time you met her. So affable, fun-loving and irresistibly charming that she couldn’t resist. And such a good dancer, that you waltzed around the dance floor with commanding ease.
Mum called you a hero Dad for the way in which you fought till the end, and when I was a child, you were certainly my hero. To me you seemed invincible. So big and strong. As far as I was concerned you could do anything, and you did! You saved my life when I stopped breathing as a baby, you got your family safely to a free country and you did extraordinary things for us like the time you rode 12kms on a pushbike with a huge glass window strapped to your back so we could have light in our meagre garage lodgings. Dad, you were amazing!
And you were such a doer too ~ always committed to doing your best and getting the job done. If something needed doing, from organising a function to moving house, you were the man. You were the ultimate wheeler-dealer ~ smart and sharp. You always found a way, and you did it the quickest and the best way without any fuss. Over the years we all witnessed your incredible determination, will and drive. Growing up we were inevitably caught up in what you were doing, and whatever it was, it always involved people and action.
You worked very hard for us Dad. You saw that as your duty, but you also played hard as well, especially in your hey days. Having come through a horrific war, like most, you refused to discuss it and instead you lived in the moment, took chances and loved a gamble. You locked away the demons and focused on the pleasure. You saw yourself as a winner, and when that winning moment came you revelled in it, often throwing caution to the wind. And oh how you loved those impulsive breezes and where they took you.
A free-spirited farm boy and a believer in ‘live and let live’, there was no hiding behind a bush for you. You did your own thing, secure within yourself, never feeling the need to impress anyone. Your only sadness, and it never left you, was the heartbreak of having to leave Latvia and your family behind. In later years, as you worked in your garden, I know you often thought of your father and mother, and never once did you fall asleep without closing your eyes and walking through your childhood home first.
So you see Dad, we all understood you very well through all the ups and downs. We felt your sadness and your joy, and we loved and accepted you just the way you were. Strong of mind, body and will. Anyone who shook your hand felt your strength and assuredness. Your ideals were simple: family, hard work, friends, good food and fun. You lived your life exactly as you wanted, and you enjoyed it. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Dad you may have been a man of few words, but you left us with so many memories and so much love. I am a better person for having you as a father. So thank you… for saving me, for being my hero, for teaching me how to dance, for instilling in me your work ethic, for letting me be me, for being proud of me, and for the times you made me feel like a princess. But most of all, thank you for showing me how to celebrate life, live in the moment and in-joy it.
Inara Hawley © 2013