Dad In Training
Dad Memories for Fathers Day
Memories are like the nicest photographs that you ever took, kept in a huge album that you will (hopefully) never lose. Childhood memories inparticular are priceless and Father-Son memories are ones to treasure. Thats why for Fathers Day this year (my first as a blogger), I wanted to share some of those memories. It will mean absolutely nothing to my readers, but it will probably mean something to my Dad; maybe to my Mum and most likely to my siblings but most importantly this blog post is (just this once) for myself.
Perhaps my earliest memories of my Dad involve baths. I remember my Dad working a physical, dirty job and coming home to soak in the bath every day. I guess his bath time must have been close to my bed time and my only chance to see him, because I was usually allowed to sit in the room and talk to him whilst he bathed. He used to pretend to get sucked down the plug hole by an overgrown earthworm called Jim every time he drained his bath water! It frightened me to death. Every time.
I remember going to visit my Nana (my Dads Mum) regularly and walking there with my Dad. It seemed to take forever and be a million miles away even though in reality it wasn't really that far. It was hard to keep up with his pace with my little legs and when we took a shortcut that involved climbing the cememtary wall. I used to think he was like Superman the way he lifted me up first and then scaled it himself with ease. It seemed similar in stature to Everest at the time for me.
("We'll just climb over this wall. It's quicker")
For a while my Mum worked night shifts at a nursing home in between taking care of us during the day. Some of those nights brought my first lessons in enjoying a boys night in. I thought I was all grown up, sipping home made cider from an egg cup whilst watching British boxing legends such as Lennox Lewis and Chris Eubank. I'd fall asleep during whatever film followed the fight night and become a small child again soon after by wanting to sleep in Dads bed as opposed to my own.
I recall a very early Christmas (certainly my first Christmas memory) when my Dad pretended that Santa hadnt quite finished his delivery of presents and caught him red handed in our house. Apparently he scared him off and thats why there was a trail of sweets and chocolates all the way down the stairs and through the hallway. Me, my brother and sister gathered as many as we could before realising we couldnt fully open the living room door because there were too many presents filling up the room.
The first football match my Dad took me to was of a semi professional standard in our home town. Chadderton FC took on some other team just as obscure and I dont even recall who won, but I do remember seeing the players in the bar afterwards and thinking my Dad had put me in the presence of superstars. Over the next few years, I enjoyed watching my Father get animated at the TV during countless games of football - I put that down as the reason Im passionate about the game now. Later, he took me to the old Wembley (the real home of football) to see all of Englands home qualifiers for World Cup 1998! I was 10 years old for those qualifiers but I can still remember all of the scores and even specific moments. I remember learning the words to the national anthem so I could join in and I can still picture Alan Shearer scoring a free kick England had won from a pass back and nearly taking the roof off the net. I fell in love with football forever that year.
(One of my favourite footballing memories involved this man)
We were lucky enough to go to Orlando, Florida 4 times as a family during my childhood and some of my happiest memories are from those trips. My Dad, like his Dad tends to sing a lot and has a song for most situations. He had us children in fits of laughter as he knocked on hotel windows as we were heading out to dinner singing 'Come For Your Tea' to the tune of 'Under The Sea'. People must have been ready to call the police, thinking there was a lunatic on the loose! The only time I got back into the ocean the year that I was stung by a ray in Florida, was the time he came in with me on a walk along the shore. The last time we visited Florida as a family I was almost 16 years old and thought I was all grown up. One night when we got back to the villa, my Mum, brother and sister went to bed early; my Dad wanted a nightcap and me being all grown up wanted to go with him. We'd seen a bar on our way home and knew it wasnt far away if we took a shortcut rather than walking back along the roads. We climbed over a fence and dropped down into what we thought was a small opening of grassland. We had in fact landed in an overgrown marsh, in the pitch black. I don't know who was more scared, but we both clearly thought alligators and snakes at the same time because we ran through that field like Usain Bolt on hot coals.
(My Dad and his shortcuts...!)
My Dad used to watch wrestling with me for my sake. He says it was for my sake and that he didn't even like it; but if I ever missed it... he was always able to fill me in on what had happened. He was a bigger fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin than I was! He taught me the rules of American Football and started the obsession. He used to record late night basketball games for me, know the outcome and still rewatch them with me without telling me the score. I specifically remember my LA Lakers winning the Western Conference Finals with a buzzer beating 3 point shot from Robert Horry. I thought we had lost and went from sadness to euphoria in a split second and I turned around to see him smiling but not surpried because he already knew how it ended.
Paul Scholes is my all time favourite footballer - My Dad introduced me to him! Personally. At Paul Scholes' Mother in Laws very own house. We chatted about his goal against Mexico that same week and he invited us in for a cup of tea. I kid you not!
Did you know that I've never seen anyone bend a football as wickedly as my Dad? Roberto Carlos included. Nor have I seen anyone swim faster.
The first time I ever visited an Indian restaurant was with my Dad. My Mum, brother and sister were away at my Grandparents and we ate at the Jaypur in Banbury. This was the first boys night out I can recall.
When my parents owned and lived in a village pub, my Dad saw me hit my first 180 in a darts match. In that pub, I beat him in a cooking competition that I later admitted to cheating in by using a celebrity chefs recipe and calling it my own. That pub saw me and my Dad (amongst others) sing English football songs in a sing-off against American students. We double teamed another set of students at poker and took their money! That pub played host to us watching England win the 2003 Rugby World Cup... the excitement that day was so much that I piggy backed my Dad in circles shouting non-existant words.
In later life, I've been lucky enough to be in a position where I could help create a few memories myself. I helped pay for my Dad to come on a group trip to Germany for the football world cup in 2006. The memories from that trip are hazy at best, and what can be remembered doesnt need repeating here. A few years after that, I paid for me and him to travel to Rome for his 50th birthday. We befriended an Italian gentleman called Mr.Marconi and even though he spoke no English, we enjoyed his company for several hours and laughed... A lot. That trip, for me was one of the highlights of my travelling life - I can remember specific conversations from those days and treasure them. We've attended local fight nights, football matches and played golf together. I was glad that he travelled all the way to Thailand to be at my wedding and most recently I was blessed with the opportunity to introduce him to his first Grandson.
If me and my son are able to create half as many memories together then I will be a very, very happy man! Happy Fathers Day everyone.