Happy Father's Day to all dads

Happy Father's Day to all Dads

My Dad surprised me recently with a homemade treasure from the 1970s - a card for Father's Day that my brothers and I had made entirely from comic strips.  I couldn't believe he'd kept it all these years and it brought back a rush of memories from my childhood.

In the 70s, we lived in a small 'gardener's cottage' in Auckland, New Zealand and Mum and Dad had to manage with five children under one roof.   Dad was a dentist with his own practice down the road. Mum was his dental nurse.

I was about 7, Simon would have been 5, Chris 3 and our oldest siblings, Lee and Marc, about to leave for boarding school.  We had a shetland sheepdog called Robbie, a cat called Trapper and a menagerie of ducks and mice. Jeremy,  the orphan duckling whom we rescued from the Island, would go to sleep on Dad's great barrel chest every night in front of the TV.

There were tough times (Dad's cooking is at the top of that list) but also amazing periods with family music sessions in the basement, holidays at The Island, fishing trips in the harbour and camping trips to Stillwater and Sandspit. 

We watched TV together as a family in the TV room, drove our parents crazy by constantly slamming the trapdoor to Marc's room, broke many rules including running around the neighbour's private garden maze chasing 'wurlies' and swinging on the clothesline until it collapsed. 

Mum used to ring a hand held brass bell from the back door for every meal and shout 'Jane, Simon, Lee, Chris, Marc - dinnnnerrrrrrrr!' -  she could be heard from several streets away and kids from all directions would come running.  

Our parents must have mortgaged themselves to the hilt to pay the food bill especially as our oldest brother Marc consumed a loaf of bread, half a kilo of cheese and a pint of milk every day before dinner. Meanwhile, Simon and I would pile tiny Chris's plates with our left-overs when our parents weren't looking so that we could leave the dinner table. 

We were a sporting family and I remember running the Round The Bay's run as a family in small toweling shorts and bright coloured t-shirts with garish images of unicorns, lions or dental merchandise on the front.  We also spent hours on the back lawn bouncing on the trampoline -sometime landing in the neighbour's yard -  while Lee trained Robbie to jump over broomsticks, or snuck around the forbidden Chinese Gardens in the huge gully behind our house pretending we were ninjas. 

One year, my parents decided to start building mini-cats (a small version of the hobi catamaran), believing it to be a get rich quick scheme. I'll never forget standing as a family on the beach and watching in embarrassment as Dad capsized his brand new catamaran at sea and had to be rescued by the coastguard.

Memories we will cherish forever.

You did  a great job raising us, Mum and Dad.

Remember when times are tough and the days seem dark . . we love you.

Happy Father's Day from the UK xxx

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