I was blessed to have the best kind of father. Hard-working, selfless and generous, proud of his seven children and working with my mother to ensure we all had the best opportunities in life. To them, that meant giving us the best education they could afford, resulting in a tight budget and few luxuries. Our clothes were hand-me-downs or made by my mother, and holidays were camping trips with all nine of us packed into our Holden station wagon in the days before seat-belts were really thought of.
I still don’t know how my mother managed to cook a square meal for nine each night, but somehow she did. Family meals were always an event, full of laughter and lively conversation.
Dad wanted all of us to have the opportunity to go to university - and all seven of us did. Our parents were not the type to say they were proud of us, or even to say they loved us, though it’s clear that they were enormously proud and loved us to the extent that we were the centre of their world.
When I decided to give up my work as a veterinarian and scientist and began making soap and skin care for what was to become Mokosh, I think Dad was a little nonplussed. But he never questioned my decision. Instead, he drew on his knowledge as an industrial chemist to talk me through the chemistry of soap-making, and made sure I knew exactly what I was doing. His own quiet way of giving me his blessing.
Dad was highly intelligent, quietly spoken, thoughtful and, especially in his later years, preferred books to most people. Yet his family were always his centre. Right to the end, his face would light up whenever one of us or his many grandchildren called in to visit. To us, his life may have seemed a little unexciting, lacking glamour and adventure. He valued hard work over a party, and intellectual conversation over small talk. But he was always there, the rock around which our family revolved.
He provided the constancy and stability that allowed us to become whatever we chose to be. He gave the seven of us the gift of a wonderful childhood and, for me at least, six of my best friends.
Sometimes, fathers are most appreciated when they are gone. This father’s day, I’m remembering my special Dad, and all the other special Dads who make this world a better place in their own quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) way. I hope you get a chance to say thanks to the special father or father-figure in your life today.