With Father’s Day just a few days away, we thought it might be nice for the people who make up The Sunshine Collective (Erin, Lisa and our two husbands, Tom and Mark) to reflect on our own fathers.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!!
What is your Dad’s name?
L: Robert Donald (everyone called him Bob)
E: Dean Bird
M: Graeme Goudie
T: Douglas Gray
Where was he born?
L: Port Macquarie, New South Wales
E: South Australia (not sure where, exactly)
M: Melbourne, Victoria
T: Canterbury, Victoria
Where did you grow up?
L: Marysville, Victoria for most of primary school and then Sandringham, Victoria.
E: Born in Shepparton, lived in Toolamba, Wangaratta, Braybrook, Launching Place, Echuca, then Croydon. Primary School mainly at Launching Place and High School mainly in Croydon.
M: Hawthon, Victoria
T: Oakleigh, Victoria
What was your Dad’s occupation when you were growing up?
L: Primary School Teacher and School Principal
E: Train Driver
M: Building Surveyor
T: Commercial Artist
Where does your Dad live now?
L: My beautiful Dad passed away in 2000, but up until the time he died, he still lived in Sandringham.
M: At the family home in Hawthorn
What does he like to spend his time doing?
L: Dad always liked to spend his spare time making things with wood. He built incredible custom bookshelves and he built me a bed for my 21st birthday – he was quick to tell me it could only hold the weight of one person! He was also really interested in genealogy and spent hours researching and recording family history.
E: Gardening, but he’s recently taken up going to the gym.
M: Now retired, playing golf and relaxing in front of the TV.
T: Sculpture, painting, watching horse racing.
What is one word to describe him?
L: Supportive (and loyal, gentle and kind)
What is one of the earliest memories you have of him?
L: Dad would always come home from work in time to have dinner with the family. I later found out he went back to work after my brother and I went to bed, but he was always there for dinner. As Mum was preparing dinner (Dad was no cook!) he and Mum would have a glass of sherry and I would sit on his knee at the kitchen table. I remember laughing a lot.
E: I remember when my mum got a part time job working Friday and Saturday nights at the local pub – she made the desserts in the kitchen (hello: frog-in-a-pond!). Dad had to make us dinner and look after us, put us to bed. It was super exciting, because every single time he made hamburgers and chips (with burnt onions, for some reason, each week) and let us sit in our bean bags and watch completely inappropriate movies. They were usually action/horror. I remember the night Mum saw him return from the video shop with ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. She marched straight back to the shop and swapped it for ‘Jason and the Argonauts’. As a Mum, now, I can empathise with my Mum. As a kid, it was pretty fun.
M: Sitting on his knee in the front garden.
T: I remember playing soccer with him out in the back yard. I must have been about 3 or 4 – big enough to run and kick a ball but short enough to fit under a low hanging tree branch from a huge Tilia tree that grew in the middle of the yard. Running up to try and score a goal I ran under the branch. Dad was concentrating on the ball and failed to notice the low branch (which was at his head height). As the tackle came in there was a heavy THUD noise and dad hit the deck!
I went on and scored a goal then turned around to see where dad was. He was lying on the ground holding his head with both hands. Happily, he didn’t hurt himself too bad but the soccer for the afternoon finished at that moment.
What is your fondest memory of him?
L: There are so many. I remember how patient he was. When I had my heart broken for the first time (I was 16) he talked to me as though I was an adult – no judgement or condescension. I remember being really sick one time and lying with my head on his knee and telling him I loved him – I’m so glad for that memory – and I remember how incredibly affectionate and loving he was. Towards the end of his life he lost the ability to talk, but the last phrase he was able to communicate was ‘I love you’. I remember how he made me feel safe – he was my anxiety compass. If Dad wasn’t worried, I wasn’t worried either.
E: When my sister and I were really small we had ‘Doctor Kits’ My Dad was a shift worker and would often be sleeping in late, after finishing a late shift. However, he always let my sister and I jump on his bed and ‘doctor him’. I also remember going through a very enthusiastic ‘cooking’ stage. Mum would let me have free reign of her baking ingredients and I’d mix up some kind of dough and get Mum to bake it. I’d serve it up to Dad when he got home from work and he obediently ate it, telling me what a great cook I was.
M: The hug I received on my wedding day.
T: Lots of fond memories of Dad. He was always there at footy training or picking me up from work. Never questioned it or said that he would rather be doing something else. Playing backyard cricket at a holiday house in Anglesea was great fun, and kicking the footy at half time at the local footy ground also stands out.
What is something you remember him saying?
L: “One must generalise in order to have conversation, but what one must not do is apply the generalisation to the particular.”
E: ‘If you don’t eat, you don’t poo, if you don’t poo, you die.’ It was pretty much the sum total of his health advice. I have actually heard myself repeating it to my kids.
M: He often enjoyed telling jokes and humorous stories.
T: During a junior football game at Guest Rd oval (under 12’s I think) I remember him telling me about the different ways to play on after you take a mark. I tried to do one of the moves after taking a mark in the forward line, but not being the fastest kid around I got tackled and lost the ball. I think Dad was secretly happy I tried to do something he had just told me about.
What is the best piece of advice he ever gave you?
L: About marriage and relationships, he told me to simply ‘be kind to each other.’
E: Being polite doesn’t cost you anything.
M: Pursue your interests.
T: Practice and hard work pay off.
What is a song or a piece of music that reminds you of him?
L: ‘On Your Shore’ by Enya. He had me record myself singing this before I moved to London and we later played it at his funeral. I haven’t been able to listen to it since.
E: Horror Movie by Skyhooks
T: Anything by Vangelis or Saint-Saens
What is a smell that reminds you of him?
L: Sawdust and just that general ‘working in the garden’ smell.
E: Tobacco – the kind you used to buy in a pouch to roll your own cigarettes.
M: Pipe tobacco
T: Pino Silvestre cologne
What family holidays do you remember most?
L: Our camping holidays in our Jayco. We took time off school (with both parents as teachers and your Dad the principal of your school, that was pretty easy to organise) and we would travel around Australia. It was a pretty awesome childhood!
E: We actually never had a family holiday. Mum and Dad worked all through any holiday time, when we were small. I do remember spending a few school holidays on a flower farm, where Dad was working. I thought that was the best place ever. There were rows and rows of flowers we were allowed to pick and the occasional tractor ride. Mum made us big containers full of little pastries, so it was one big picnic for us.
M: Travelling to Cohuna at Easter each year with family friends to play in the local tennis tournament. We would all stay at the local caravan park and apart from Christmas, that was my favourite time of year.
T: Going to Anglesea between Christmas and New Year. One year his business had done very well and the family flew up to the Gold Coast and stayed in a hotel with 2 pools.
What is something that makes your Dad nostalgic?
L: Classical music always made him nostalgic and so did talking about past caravanning holidays, or talking about his own childhood in Port Macquarie.
E: Everything! My Dad is very sentimental. Every time he sees my kids he is reminded of something I said or did at their age.
M: I expect Dad would look fondly upon the times spent as a family, particularly on family holidays.
T: Talking about the family holidays he used to go on with his Mum and Dad to Dromana.
What is something you have learnt from him?
L: I got my love of the English language and grammar from Dad and he taught me many of the lessons I always taught my own classes and I now teach through The Sunshine Collective.
E: How to play draughts and poker. He taught us the essentials.
M: Dad taught me how to play tennis throughout my younger years.
T: Always support your family, no matter what.
What is something you have in common with your Dad?
L: Dad and I are both very insecure about many things and need lots of reinforcement and positive feedback in order to feel we are doing well. I also inherited his very long, skinny toes!!
E: We both like growing vegetables and finding new recipes. Also – we both have a mania about keeping our kitchen benches clean and tidy. Can’t stand kitchen clutter.
M: We share a passion for sport.
T: We have similar tastes in music and composers.
What is something that is different about the two of you?
L: Dad was really good with computers – I am a disaster zone!
E: He’s much more outgoing than me. If you go up the main street where he lives, you have to allow at least an hour, as he knows everyone and chats to them all.
M: Dad has always been quite conservative and risk-averse, whereas I’m more inclined to explore unknowns and take some risks along the way.
T: He has more hair than I do J He used to get mistaken for Bob Hawke when he let his hair grow out.
What is something your Dad did with you that you now do with your kids?
L: There are lots of things I have replicated from my own childhood: reading to the kids every night, playing board games and card games, always eating dinner as a family around the table, and the way we celebrate birthdays and Christmas are just the way we did it in my family. We are even about to set off on our first Jayco holiday!!
E: Sunday morning pancakes
M: Prepare the fireplace and light a fire on a cold Sunday afternoon.
T: Play a lot of sport and take them to activities like swimming, gymnastics and karate. Dad was always heavily involved with his children even though he had a demanding job and 4 kids.
What would you like to say to your Dad this Father’s Day?
L: I would like to repeat the last words I ever said to him: “I love you and thank you.”
E: That I love him and appreciate that he’s always around for me and my brother and sister, any time we ask or need help – whether it’s a trailer loan, a meal or a babysitter.
M: I hope you have a wonderful day.
T: I love you Dad – happy father’s day.
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