Dad, fifteen years ago, you went home to the loving arms of Jesus and I’ve tried my best to do you proud. It’s the odd dichotomy of our relationship: you’re a distant memory but your presence is still palpable, like the scent of freshly cut grass that you used to comment on when we tended our Montmartre garden back in the 90s.
I sometimes wonder what our conversations would be like if you were still around. Would you tell me I’m too fat, or that I’m too soft on my kids, or that I have too many tattoos? Would you have said I’m too out there for Jesus, or too timid to fight for myself, or too eager to please others?
I don’t think you would, because you’ve always accepted me for who I was and who I was becoming. I realise the life of integrity and honesty I try to live is still in pursuit of trying to fill in your massive shoes.
But ironically, I’ll bet you would have told me not to. “Don’t copy me,” you often said sternly as you lit your millionth cigarette. I remember you saying, “be who you were meant to be,” when I told you I didn’t want to go into law and just become a teacher. “I’ll love you no matter what happens.”
Well, here I am, Dad, sitting on a sofa in an Australian winter, not a lawyer, not a published author, not even a teacher, not anyone of particular reputation, looking back at my life these past fifteen years and wondering if I made you proud and if I was ever good enough.
And I know you’d say, “You don’t have to do anything to be good enough, because I love you just the way you are, kid.”
And I love you too, Dad. And today of all days, reminding me of when you left us fifteen years ago, I miss you more than ever.