Personally Speaking

by Susannah Friis, Editor The Lake News

This month, we celebrate Father’s Day; and as with most things this year, it will be a different kind of celebration due to border closures and number restrictions on gatherings. I’ve been reflecting on my father as we, as a family, make arrangements to visit him separately rather than altogether (we’re a big family!).

I remember an incident that typifies the type of person my dad is that happened when I was about six or seven years old. Dad was up on a ladder doing something to the side of the house. My sister and I were riding our bikes around on the flat piece of concrete that passed as the carport. I heard a noise and turned to see my dad toppling off the ladder, his leg landing on the sharp edge of the concrete. Stunned, my sister and I just stood there, gaping. My dad then quietly said, “Go and get your mother.” I ran inside to fetch mum. She was in the kitchen, busy, and instead of saying, “Dad’s fallen off the ladder! Come quickly!”, I simply said, “Dad wants you.” (I wasn’t a bright child.) Her reply was something along the lines of “Okay, tell him I’ll be there in a minute.” After a few more minutes of me continuing to stand there, she eventually said, “What does he want?” It was only then that I told her he’d fallen off the ladder! Thankfully, he wasn’t seriously hurt, and the delay I’d caused had no lasting effect, although I do think there was a trip to the doctor that day.

The one word that would sum up my dad is ‘calm’. I’ve never seen him panic, heard him raise his voice or seen him go anywhere near ‘losing control’. He has always been steady, constant. As children, none of us had to ‘see what mood he’s in’ before approaching him with a tricky question or request. And he remains that way to this day.

I’m visiting my parents pretty regularly at the moment and, of course, the latest news regarding the COVID-19 situation always comes up. And my dad brings a sense of calm to the whole conversation, however alarming it might be, particularly with the recent flurry of community transmission.

Earlier this year, we celebrated, in a low-key keeping to the restrictions kind of way, his 80th birthday. In the absence of a big party, I had organised for people near and far, friends current and past, to write a letter to him to mark the 80 years. Common threads running through the letters (not that I read all of them!) were his sense of humour, the peace he imbues, his warmth and his steadfastness. I am so thankful to have grown up under the glow of these attributes!

I go away from every visit with my parents with a sense of calm and peace, regardless of world events or what is happening in my life. I strive to emulate the same characteristics, particularly in our current circumstances. Now, more than ever, we need to be agents of peace, humour and warmth. As we move about in our community, let’s aim, as best we can given our own particular situations, to share with others a sense of calm in these anxious times. 

This Father’s Day, may we celebrate and remember the men, past and present, who’ve influenced our lives and continue to do so in countless ways. 

To read more Personally Speaking columns, go here.