What are your childhood memories of your dad?
How was your relationship with your dad?
My dad was number 9 out of 13 kids! He went 16 years thinking his name was Prince. That was just his nickname. He found out when he wrote Prince down on his exam papers.
We had a complicated relationship. He grew up in a culture very different from the one that I did and I often found a strong internal conflict around that.
He had a strong accent when he spoke English and as a child, I found it embarrassing. Everyone always stared at him. I know now it was because he was very handsome and smiley. As a child, I was just embarrassed.
My sister, on the other hand, found him hilarious. She would laugh at his accent and his little mistakes. She was a cheeky 5-year-old. Now my sons do the same to me when I speak Swedish!
He had strong views about wealthy people and money. ‘You shouldn’t show off your money’. He made good money but lived frugally. He only owned 3 shirts and wore them in rotation.
I remember his gold wedding ring on his hand and his watch on his arms so clearly.
He had strong views about education. You were lazy if you didn’t learn, improve and grow. He hated the idea of paying for education. All children and young people should have equal access to knowledge.
My dad had strong views on gender roles. This was more complicated, but the general message was that women’s sexuality should be toned down. Modesty was important.
Also, a general ‘girls should be quiet and obedient’ message was what I understood. Most importantly, women should be married.
I ignored that as a teenager. I rocked my short skirts, but I did bite my tongue.
He looked after me when I was a baby from age 1-3 months while my mother went away to work. He was very much the parent that was home more. I noticed that he loved looking after people.
He did most of the cooking, laundry and even sewed clothes for my sister and I. He drove me to orchestra practice and my friend’s house. He put us to bed.
As I grew older I noticed that all babies loved him!
He was a handyman, he could fix any car, build a driveway, build a conservatory, a garage conversion, put in a new bathroom.
He was an electrical and air traffic engineer by trade, but he always learned new skills. In his retirement, he learned how to fix computers, mobile phones and generally loved to fix everything. He worked at the airport and I spent a lot of time there. I loved watching all the planes. I realised at the age of 15 that not all dads can fix planes!
He was very generous with his time, skills and money. He donated to charity, helped elderly neighbours with their gardens. He had huge respect for the elderly.
Our home was littered with his friend’s TV sets waiting to be fixed by my dad for free. He set the tone for how much I value and how I treat my friends like family.
He was popular with women. Everywhere we went, he was busy helping women park their cars in crowded car parks. Carrying their heavy shopping bags. Playing with their crying kids in the supermarket. Smiling politely when they flirted with the handsome dad who was always alone with 2 daughters. My daughter has his smile.
He was handsome, could cook, was calm and could fix everything so I soon learned that this was attractive to women! It’s certainly the type of man I became attracted to when I grew up.
He had the longest nose ever. I do too and wear it proudly. My youngest may have his nose. It’s too early to tell!
My father was emotionally distant. He never talked about his feelings. He didn’t talk much at all. I saw how this frustrated my mother and I also found it difficult. He never asked me how I was feeling. I started to assume that how I was feeling wasn’t important. At the same time, I was super curious about how everyone else was feeling. Later on as a woman when I met a man who dared to show me his true feelings was irresistible.
As a child, I decided that he was just rude. I interpreted his silence as a lack of interest and a preference for my sister’s company over mine or my mother’s company.
He remembered all my friends by the car their dad drove. ‘The one with the Volvo.’ I learned that men notice strange details about women!
He had a strong moral compass. He had a temper when he felt someone had lied or cheated especially around money and work. He once lifted a man and threw him out of the front door onto his car. I also saw him smash chairs against the wall. This scared me and I vowed I would never tolerate violence or even rage from a man.
My dad lost a lot of hair in one go and it was the first time I noticed him feeling self-conscious about his appearance. He wore a baseball cap. When my sons wear a baseball cap they remind me of him.
When he retired, my mother decided to retire too even though she was younger than him. They spent his last 10 years travelling. They became really interested in meditation. They spent a lot of time abroad on meditation retreats in remote places. I usually didn’t know where they were! I loved that they had that freedom and time together.
They became very religious in their old age which I found difficult.
My dad died of pancreatic cancer age 70. He only had 3 months from being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer until his death. His only symptom was a little cough.
He planned and paid for his funeral in advance. He used breathwork to manage his pain and only took morphine in the final weeks.
He donated money to a Sri Lankan hospice to provide the patients there with morphine as they said they didn’t have any which upset him.
Before he died he told me he had lived an amazing life. His best memories were travelling with us. I will always remember our tropical adventures. Drinking coconut water by the side of the road and watching monkeys. He was right and I will always save and spend my money on travelling with my kids.
It was the first time aged 32 that I faced the process of dying and death (which happened at the same time as the birth of my 3rd child) and started a spiritual awakening in my mind, body and soul.
He was a real paradox of a man and I’m really grateful for that first relationship with a man. Father and daughter. He taught me that a man can really be almost everything, not either-or, and I set the bar high for all men after him.
I wanted the father of my daughter to be one who was comfortable talking about and expressing his thoughts and feelings. I wanted an upgrade of my father in that sense. I wanted the best for my own daughter. She should feel seen, heard, loved and accepted just as she is.
She should be celebrated and feel her worth as a daughter, a girl and as she gets older she should feel worthy as a woman.
7 LIFE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY DAD
- Crisps are evil
- Save and spend all your money on travel
- Women can’t drive or park their cars
- Don’t be greedy at a buffet
- Tip generously to waitresses
- Smile and people will give you anything
- Babies are the best
Happy Birthday, Dad!
I miss you. I forgive you. I love you.
What are your important memories and life lessons learned from your dad? I’d love to know!