Daylan & Robin Portrait

This photo was taken the day before the last birthday I will have before becoming a father myself. I turned 34 the day after this photo was taken. My first child will (all going according to plan) be born in approximately 8 weeks time. So, this photo is taken at a time when I have been giving a great deal of thought to the role my parents have played, and continue to play in my life.

I’m sure being a parent is going to present a whole range of challenges, but thankfully I have a fantastic role model in my father. If the relationship I have with my child is anything like that which I have with Dad, I will feel doubly blessed.

Dad has played a constantly evolving role throughout my life and I reckon that is one of the great skills of parenting. If he was still giving me whizzy-dizzies every evening; that would be a little odd. Relationships needs to develop over time and that’s something my father has done very well. As a young child, Dad was the most exciting thing that would happen most days. I’d hear his car pull into the driveway and I’d run to the door (along with my two siblings) to meet him. Big hugs would follow and (if we were lucky) piggy-back rides up and down the hallway would ensue. Dad was the best climbing frame around. I recall one particular night when Dad arrived home and called us kids to meet him in the driveway. He walked us around to the boot of his car and revealed a jumble of equipment that boggled our minds. There was a huge coil of wire, rope, various nuts and bolts and a bright red pulley with a huge hook on the end of it. I had no idea what this could possibly mean. Dad has always been good at making things, at solving problems and thinking laterally. He is also a natural teacher (which is a tremendous attribute for a father). After questioning us for some time about what we thought these things could be used for, Dad showed us just what could be done with this bewildering mix of objects. He proceeded to rig up a flying fox on a bush block we used to holiday on. The cable was strung from tree to tree across (what then appeared to be) a deep creek. This gift not only taught us to think, but also provided us with years of entertainment (and him with some relative peace). This gift came at just the right time in our development and was given in a way that taught us a lot. Dad has always been good like that.

Another other thing Dad is particularly good at, is being the kind of guy that everyone wants to spend time with. Most of my friends would be equally happy to hang out with him as they would with me. I think one of the reasons for this, is that my old man has never got stale. He has always pursued a wide range of interests and that is a characteristic I particularly admire. It’s all too easy to get tunnel vision with work or family and become a one-dimensional bore, but Dad has managed to maintain a healthy balance and this is something that keeps him young. At the age of 45, he decided to learn musical instrument and he stuck with it. 20 years on, he’s playing with a band every week and organizing gigs all over the state. He’s got so many hobbies and interests he almost doesn’t have time for them all, even now he has (more or less) retired.

I count myself very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with my father too. It’s not something I ever planned to do, in fact I think I was dead against it for many years, but it has been a real privilege to work along side him and learn what he’s been up to all these years (I had no idea as a child). I’ve learnt a lot from and about my father by working with him and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to see how he conducts himself professionally. Dad has worked in the rag-trade in various capacities since he left school. He knows the industry inside out. Working with my father made me realize that he is bloody good as his job. If I hadn’t worked with him, it’s unlikely I would ever have discovered that… I probably would have suspected as much, but it’s another thing to witness it. Seeing the respect people have for him in the industry is a gift on so many levels. I feel incredibly proud that others think as highly of my father as I do of him. It also makes my job more enjoyable as suppliers and contacts I deal with are all keen to work with me because of his legacy… That’s quite an honour.

I could go on and on about my Dad, but I think that’s enough for now. I just hope I can be half the father he has been (and continues to be) to me. Buy him a beer if you ever see him out and about - it’s like catching up with an old mate.

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