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Growing up, I always felt as if dad and I were on the same side. No matter how big the obstacle, how tough the issue or how far the opportunity, dad could always see a way through.
Like all teenagers, we often test the patience of our parents. Both my brother and I managed to achieve this on more than a few occasions. Fortunately we could see how dad’s calm and fair approach, even in testing times, rubbed off on all those he came across - family, friends, work colleagues and teenage sons pushing the boundaries.
Dad is also one of the bravest people I know. Brave in his thoughts, brave in his decision making, brave in his actions. He has led an inspired life to date, with many rich and diverse chapters. Probably none more so than proposing to his wife of 34 years, after only 3 weeks, and whisking her away to Paris. So when I decided to move to Sweden for love a few years ago, there was no one more supportive. When that didn’t quite work out, I was greeted by the same caring and understanding family base.
The older I grow, I feel the closer we get. More and more I notice the similarities in our approach to things in life. Our love for the Essendon Football Club, our interest in Europe and its history, and a good glass of wine (although his white and mine red). Dad has always had a strong sense of fairness & justice, along with a genuine interest & understanding of people from various backgrounds. These are definitely traits that I feel deeply about and try to emulate on a daily basis as I move deeper into my adult life.
They say friends are the family that you choose. I am fortunate enough to say my dad is both my family and my mate.
For a man who can remember when fruit was delivered by horse and cart through his neighbourhood in Essendon, that we are great mates who share such a close bond which transcends generational differences I believe is a true testament to our common values.
Dad is a person who I have always seen values relationships, kindness and respect for others as the most prized possessions in life. Whilst I don’t ever pretend to be nearly as pure in practise as him, my dad (and mum) taught me these values and they have stood the test of time as I’ve grown up to remain my own core values. However, we often have different ways of expressing them in our words and behaviours (dad generally adopts a ‘softly softly’ approach, whereas I am more direct like mum). This growth in understanding between us that we can share values but embody them in our own separate ways has led to a profound respect for each other’s individual approach to things and galvanised our close relationship; that organic transition from originally father and son to also being close mates. Best friends.
I am not ashamed to say that when I was growing up my dad was always the first person to whom I turned for assistance and advice and often relied upon in times of real strife or confusion in my own life. More so than anyone in my life, I always felt able to call upon my dad and tell him truthfully about whatever situation I had got myself into, no matter how embarrassed I might have felt at the time. I did so because dad never judged me; he is one of the most non-judgmental people I have ever met. Instead, every time he would simply provide a gentle helping hand and often recited the Latin phrase, “Quo Vadis” (Where are you going?) for me to reflect upon myself about my own actions and where I would choose to take my life from that point on moving forward. In my eyes, this is one of the purest symbols of friendship one could ever offer to another person; no judgment, just a gentle helping hand. At the time I saw it solely as a father unconditionally loving his son. I have since come to recognise that in these loving actions he was being both my dad and my mate.
Dad has had such an interesting journey in life that I often marvel at how he has come to be where he is today, as well as how much it has shaped my own life. Dad’s time working with the Department of Immigration meant I was born in Paris (spurring my love of France, its people, culture and language) and our family lived for different periods in Belgrade and Prague; we witnessed the beginnings of the Yugoslav Wars firsthand, such as tanks rolling past our house down a suburban street. Indeed, dad’s lifetime involvement with migrants from across the world and my exposure to people from all different backgrounds from a very early age definitely underpins my view of the world and how I relate to anybody that I meet.
Since leaving school I’ve often spent periods working/studying overseas, so it has been terrific recently to be able to just sit and chat weekly with dad about life, love and everything in between. It makes me especially happy to see how much my dad always values my brother and I equally as his sons and what we bring individually and collectively to him as friends, as much as sons. We’re also staunch Essendon supporters (given dad grew up there, mum is the lone Blues fan having grown up in Carlton) and the three of us love watching games together and discussing the Dons… or bemoaning their dramas these past few years!
As my fiancée and I currently prepare to move overseas indefinitely to start the next chapter in our lives together, I am even more acutely appreciative every single day for the close and unique relationship that I share with my dad, my mate.—André & Rémy