What is your best memory of your father? I was asked this question yesterday, on Father’s Day … I thought about it for a moment … a long moment …
As life had it, we found ourselves away this year, on Father’s Day. As I thought about the question - my best memory of my father - I walked into the hotel bathroom. My eyes fell upon the soaps and shampoos that the hotel leaves for you. I smiled and the memories flooded back.
When I was a little girl, I must have been somewhere in the 3 – 6 year old region, my father was in the Rhodesian army, at a time when Zimbabwe was fighting for her independence. I don’t remember much, my mother and sister kept me very protected … but I do remember his returns home. Moments after arriving home, with childish excitement (both him and I), my Dad would unpack his kit-bag. I don’t know where he got them from (we suspected a bit of border crossing), but he would always reveal bags and bags and bags of red sugar-coated peanuts and bizarre tiny soft tin-tubes of strawberry jam – like miniature toothpaste (don’t even think about the packaging, I am sure we glowed in the dark – I might still). Dad saved his tubes of jam from his army rations and brought them home. Unbeknownst to me, these were difficult times and this unusual ritual was imprinted on our family’s DNA forever.
In my teens, my father found his passion, starting out as a Coach Driver, ultimately becoming a Tour Guide (I think it quenched his thirst to travel, still being chained to his responsibilities of family and a home). Dad would go out on the road and this time his rations weren’t kit-bags but were all of those complimentary coffee & tea sachets and shampoo’s that are left in hotel rooms. Sometimes he would head out on a quick tour up the Garden Route, then his stash would be minimal but if he went up country for a couple of weeks he would return with a bounty. It was like living in a hotel but at home. I think this ignited my love for hotels and all things Princess …
So what have I learned … Those who live in my real world or some might know from previous blogs, know that my father and I had a splintered relationship – both making mistakes from ignorance and pride. My father now has dementia and every day we witness the slippage a little further. Yesterday when I called home to wish him Happy Father’s Day … he couldn’t hear me, because now he is also mostly deaf. But now as I look back with a bit of life and parenting experience of my own, I realize that my father has been one of my Great Teachers and that gesture of bringing home mangled sachets of coffee and sugar, and dodgy flattened showercaps and bottles of conditioner was his language of love … when the words and the emotions could not be articulated.
So quite coincidentally it’s Father’s Day and I’m in a hotel bathroom and I’m looking at the upmarket shampoos and soaps and little sachets of coffee and tea … and I am smiling! That was my best memory of my dad … and as a tribute to a World War II baby’s desperate need to squirrel away rations … I continued the tradition and brought home my very own stash (they almost lost the little natty kettle - KIDDING!) … smiling warmly …
What is your best memory of your father?
Love you all madly! Let’s Make 2014 Count!
Collette in Cape Town
Song of the Post … In My Life by Bette Midler from the movie For The Boys!