Sadly my own dad died of cancer on June 16th 1986. The last time I ever saw him was on Fathers Day and, as I was born on Fathers Day, it was technically the first time I ever saw him too - but I don't really remember that much about it. 30 years is a long time and although I still wish he was around, or had least been around longer when I was growing up, the memories I have of him are happy memories, usually involving family holidays, Christmas and jokes, really bad jokes.
I was only 18 when he died so I hadn't really gotten to know him and although relatives have told me over the years that "you're just like your dad you are" I can only take their word for it. He was a Methodist lay preacher, a stand up comedian, a gifted actor heavily involved in amateur dramatics and a keen walker. I have an older brother and sister and it's funny how all three of us have taken after him in some way - big sister is a fabulous actress and addicted to holidays on the Scottish Islands, big brother is a Methodist Minister with a delightfully warped sense of humour and I'm the crazy hiker of the family (we all got stuff from mum too - but hey, this *is* Fathers Day!)
What I hadn't really known about dad until recently was that he also wrote. A few months ago my sister was sorting through some old books and found a copy of a poem my dad wrote in 1950. I absolutely love it as it echoes our shared love for the outdoors and books and hints at my writing heritage (my big sister used to write too - remember all those plays Ruth? Everyone always loved them - you really should do more and Paul - your sermons are never boring!)
Anyway, here it is - the poem is called Happiness so please don't read it and be sad. The message is about taking pleasure in the simple things so whether you're spending Fathers Day in the "wide vast spaces" or cosy warm pubs, just be sure to make some happy memories.
Give me the wide vast spaces
Give me the open Sky
Let me wander alone at will
With a rivulet running by
Give me the sun in its heaven
Let the birds sweetly trill
Leave me alone on a mountain at dawn
While my soul drinks its fill
Give me the smell of the grass after rain
The freshness of dewy dawn
Give me the sea breeze that clears the brain
The crispy winters morn
Give me all these and I’m satisfied
Give me a love that’s free
Give me a book that I may read
And happy I shall be.