Whenever the lovely Donna at Mummy Central asks me to do something, I find it hard to say no… so I’ve been walking around all week trying to compose a post about Fathers Day. I’m bending the rules slightly – it doesn’t feel right to write it in the style of a letter – perhaps because I’m actually going to be seeing my Dad this weekend for the first time in about eight months, so I want to keep all my news for then! But it has given me an excuse to revisit some lovely memories, and look back at some old photos.
As a wee girl, my Dad was the source of so much fun. He juggled several jobs, and I loved trailing round after him, watching what he did. He was a fish farmer, so I got to spend lots of time on boats with him, and messing around on fish cages in the middle of sea lochs. Our family owned a local hotel, and Dad would sometimes sneak me in the back door for a piece of shortbread from the kitchen. He also ran a local garage, so I spent a lot of time there, hanging out with the kind, hilarious mechanics, who would slip me crumpled pound notes to go and buy penny sweets with. When Dad drove the buses I’d go with him too, sitting in the back seats with the older kids as they taught me how to blow bubbles with my gum.
It still makes me giggle to think of all the various projects that Dad always had on the go. There were always bits of outboard or motorbike or fish tank sitting around in the garden. He had a purple Lotus that sat in our driveway for years and years but never went anywhere (I think I remember him taking me for a drive in it just once, before he finally sold it). We also had a black Mustang for a while, which certainly stood out on the quiet roads of the Western Isles.
Growing up on a small island was pretty much the perfect childhood – lots of times on the beaches, in the hills, and walking around our wee village. I have so many memories of times and places that are special to me – the flat rock behind our house that I used as a play kitchen to serve Dad tea and cakes, the wall where we’d sit and count cars as they came off the ferry, and the rocky island at our favourite beach that we’d run out to at low tide.
The soundtrack to my childhood is the Shipping Forecast. We all had to be quiet for it so he could listen, every single day. I am convinced that living somewhere where people are so close to the land – where my Dad could take me out and teach me about fish, birds, seasons, climate, plants and the stars – has informed my thinking as an adult, and sparked my passion for social and environmental justice.
I left the islands when I was eight, but my Dad came to the mainland to visit me regularly, and I would go back to stay with him during most school holidays. He was remarkably patient as I got older. When I visited as a teenager, it always seemed like there would be a dance in the local hall scheduled for the night before I was due to leave. I’d come in at 4am or 5am, usually smelling of Hooch or Bacardi Breezers, one time with an enormous rip in my jeans from attempting a drunken cartwheel on the road, and he’d drive me to the airport without a word of condemnation.
As time moves on, our relationship continues to evolve, but we still talk on the phone as regularly as we can. For a while I was the busy one, but at the moment it seems to be his turn. Rather than slipping quietly into retirement, he is involved with a dozen different organisations and causes – everything from renewables to community land ownership – all doing brilliant work. I am very proud of him.
Despite the busy schedule, my Dad is always there when it matters. The top photo in this post is him sitting and practicing his speech before my wedding, taken as I was being helped into my dress in the next room. He was a great big bundle of nerves and excitement and emotion, but it was a beautiful speech. I have a copy on my computer which I still can’t read without crying.
The second photo – an accidental foot photo – is taken at Callanish Standing Stones during DorkyDad’s first ever visit to the Western Isles. We were all sitting eating ice cream on a sunny day, and I had found out I was pregnant just a few days before.
And this photo – which I love – is my Dad with DorkySon on the day of his Christening.
This weekend is another big occasion, and it’s going to be a happy one. Not only is it Fathers Day, it is my brother’s wedding too. I can’t wait to spend some time with my family, and tell my Dad – in person – how much I love him.