Sunday, 19 June 2011
Dear Daddy... on Father's Day
In 1961 he came to a country where he didn't speak much of the language and at the age of 35 because he was in love. This was never an easy option - and it never became an easy life for him. He had an old- fashioned work ethic (like so many Eastern Europeans who are now working here) and an old-fashioned outlook to most things from loud music on the TV and men who didn't wear hats (for years he was never seen without one and raised it to every woman he met on the street) to the fact that you had a job for life and didn't make waves by going for promotion or retraining or looking for more money of course. He married a schoolteacher of exceptional intellect and because of this he deferred to her in almost everything which made for an easy life in one way, but was hard in terms of his feelings of self-worth and confidence.
Looking back his flashes of bad-temper which turned into depression and sulks which could go on for days, were probably partly caused by his feelings of impotence and insignificance. Because my sister and I were brought up by a bright, forward-thinking, sensible English mother, our father was someone we at best tolerated and at worst ignored for most of our formative years. It was only after we grew up that we realised that he was only human and his quirks and eccentricities, which had embarrassed the hell out of us as young adults, were endearing and something to be celebrated.
So here is a list of why I really loved my Dad and why I miss him to bits....
He loved us - sometimes it manifested itself in shouting and losing it completely but he did really really love us.
He tried his best - he worked all the hours God sent in a thankless menial job even working Christmas day to pay his bit towards Christmas.
He drove us mad about his stories of his childhood - if we heard once how he ate with a wooden spoon and bowl when he was growing up then we heard it a thousand times...
He didn't have airs and graces - I now realise that I was lucky to have a father who was eternally grateful for his lot rather than never feeling like he had quite succeeded enough. Having a home in London and two daughters who he could be proud of was enough.
He diced with death on more than one ocassion. No he wasn't a hero... He wrote off cars with silly accidents (thankfully none of them life threatening to either him or anyone else). He survived a brick falling from the roof and twice electrocuted himself in the same way so that the sparks few and so did he. He thought he was dying on a flight but it was an over-tight money belt. If he thought he was having a heart-attack he would hold up a hand-mirror to check he was still breathing - this eventually caused Mum to tell say 'I will tell you when you're having a heart attack Vladimir!' All these exploits went down in family folk lore and make me smile to this day.
He never learnt to speak English properly which always provided a laugh for the rest of us.
The pig was his fish.
No-one, and I mean no-one, was as proud a grandfather as he was of Nadia, Lily, Jerome and Irina.
He was my Dad and for us girls that is pretty special.
So here's to you Daddy on Father's Day. It took a day in the calendar to make me write down a tiny piece of what you meant to me, but there isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of you and Mum and realise that I was a very lucky little girl who turned into a pretty well-grounded adult because of the mix of both of you.
Here's to my Dad and good Dad's everywhere...