Around this time, seven years ago, both my parents had just conquered the major milestone of 50 years on this planet. My Mum had a poolside rager to celebrate, during which, I was practically bullied into making a speech. I, the connoisseur of the one word response, was expected to string full sentences together in front of a dauntingly large group of people.
Well, with a shot of liquid courage to settle my nerves – lest my shaking hands lob the microphone into the birthday cake – I pulled it off. Not that it was too hard to find nice words to say about my mother, of course.
It was probably all in my head but I was convinced my Dad was being short with me for the rest of the night. And I thought I knew the reason why. Two months prior, Dad had had his own 50th celebration. A much smaller gathering with just our closest family. We were taking turns recounting our fondest memories of the man of the hour. In my defence, there was a camcorder (that’s what we used to record video, in the old days, children). Still, it should not have been anywhere near as harrowing as the true nightmare that I would somehow overcome a few months down the road at Mum’s party. Yet, in front of the ten or so people, around whom I am most at ease, the best I could muster that night was, “Happy Birthday Dad.” That’s it. Pitiful. Luckily other more expressive members of the family picked up the slack.
In my mind, Dad must have been disappointed. Here I was waxing lyrical about my Mum with 50 pairs of eyes on me, while he’d scarcely gotten a sound bite. I was disappointed myself. The guilt would weigh on my mind from time to time. If you’ve ever perused my blog you might have come across this post: L’esprit de l’escalier , and therefore know I often regret not saying or doing things when I have the chance.
To quash it I would just tell myself that Dad obviously knew I loved him and looked up to him and if anything I’d make up for it if I was asked to say a few words at the next special occasion. Well, 2,500 plus days (good Christ that’s a large number!) have passed and such an occasion hasn’t arisen.
Now, I could wait three years until he throws a monster bash for his 60th but that seems like tempting fate. Apologies for the morbidity but ‘Dominic’ is not an old man’s name. How many Dominics do you know over 35? I might not be here in three years.
So I’ll say it now, the best way I know how (with sick rhymes apparently).
Dad is the funniest person I know. Never mind that I know a grand total of 17 people. If I knew a thousand, he’d still be top of the list. I have a joke in mind (involving a leather bra and saggy boobs) that I remember had me in tears but telling it here wouldn’t have the desired effect without Dad’s expert delivery. I love when he tells a joke and my siblings and I will crack up, and then he starts chuckling himself at us doing so.
Dad has a broad range of laughs. There’s the slight chuckle I just mentioned. The real belly laugh. And when he finds something exceptionally funny, he does that silent laugh thing which usually leads to him coughing as he remembers to breathe again. The best feeling in the world for me, is when Dad laughs at one of my jokes. I feel a sense of pride knowing it must have been a really good one.
I think I get the sarcastic side of my sense of humour from Dad. The self-deprecating part is of my own making; then again, it could be a by-product of me learning to laugh at myself because Dad has made fun of me for years! I sometimes wish I had more of his personality and his ability to communicate with anyone effortlessly. But then I think it’s probably for the best that I don’t. Combining that talent with my good looks and stunning intellect would be too much for the universe to handle, it’d collapse in on itself.
Dad is technically the reason I started writing. I came across an old scrapbook of his from when he was a teenager. It had some clever poems he had written and various newspaper clippings. I thought it would be nice to keep a record myself that I could look back on or my family could look back on, to see what I was like. So I began writing in a
diary manly digital journal. That eventually led to my initial foray into blogging with Tumblr which then became this official blog for public consumption.
I’m grateful to Dad for many things. I’m reminded of little favours like sneaking me into Sabina Park to watch cricket and getting me free tickets to parties back in my rip-roaring youth. Not to mention the 20-odd years of financial support. But in more recent times, I appreciate that he’s helped to ensure the family remains close-knit. I think we’ll always be tight but gatherings at his place and footing the bill for family outings and vacations have certainly reinforced it and left us with wonderful memories. Most importantly though, I’m thankful that there’s at least one person to like my tweets and retweet my blog posts.
So what’s my fondest memory? Two come to mind. The first is Christmas 2008. I had gotten a PlayStation game as a gift. You could play two-player co-op via split screen. I remember us teasing back and forth about each other’s level of incompetence at killing aliens and laughing, a lot. A few days later I was away in Canada and he texted me to say he missed me. Awwww!
The second is when the family left England for Jamaica in ’94. Dad was staying behind to tie up some loose ends and I remember I cried at the airport because he wasn’t coming. A few months later he arrived and surprised me and my siblings. I don’t think it was quite Christmas yet but it sure felt like it.
Anyway, before I make Mum or the rest of the family jealous I’ll wrap up here. Now at least I know that when the 60th birthday celebrations come around I can relax and just direct everyone to this post and have them read it.