Photo of Karen as a toddler with her Dad

Happy Father’s Day

I lost my dad when I was just 20 years old. It was very, very sudden. I got the news that he was unwell and I immediately flew from Adelaide to Canberra, but he was already heavily sedated. We were told that he only had a few days left. They lightened the sedation at one point so that he could wake up and we could speak to him. He was on a ventilator so he couldn’t speak back and I’m not sure just how ‘with it’ he was, though it seemed as though he understood what we were saying.


(Side note: that must have been so scary and confusing for him. It hurts too much to think about what that might have been like for him.)


I think of my dad often, and of course I miss him and I get sad at the loss. Usually when I think of him, it’s because I’m remembering the good times we shared together. Mostly in his big garage, where he worked, with a radiogram belting out the best 60s music. In summer, Dad would have a beer. In winter, a cup of tea in front of the roaring fire. My thoughts are usually based on the past, and on missing him because of the way things were between us back then.


One night not so long ago, I was folding my washing and rocking out to some Alanis Morissette. I had started listening to her album, ‘Jagged Little Pill’ again, for two reasons–it takes me back to a really fun and carefree time in my life (year 12, working at the bookshop, with nothing serious on my mind), but also because I listened to that album so much when it was released that the lyrics are burned onto my soul, and when I feel like belting out lyrics at the top of my lungs, it’s a sure-fire solution.


As I danced and folded, for some reason I wondered whether this was one of the albums that Dad got me to put onto a tape for him back then. I couldn’t remember, but I smiled as I thought that Dad probably appreciated her harder, more rock-y songs. Then I was hit with a feeling like a punch in the face. A yearning for him to be here now, for me to play some music, for us to sit and chat and enjoy some tunes. I was completely overwhelmed in an instant, and burst into tears. I’ve really never had the feeling of missing Dad in the present–missing how he would be today and how we would interact today. Of course, I’ve thought about certain things before–how Dad would be proud of me for getting my license, for buying my first new car, for starting my own business, etc. But this was different. This was an almost tantrum-like moment of, ‘I want him here NOW. I want to talk to him and enjoy time with him NOW, with who I am NOW and with who he might be NOW.’ It totally consumed me.


I was left wondering what this different feeling meant. I thought maybe it had to do with me deciding to leave my past behind and live more in the present. It was such an overwhelming experience. Maybe I process it all differently now because I feel more ‘present’ in the present these days. It makes sense that I would think of him and miss him in a new way…


He was an amazing man. His sense of humour was a kind that I’ve never seen in anyone else. Incredibly cheeky and a real pot-stirrer. If you lived near us you shouldn’t be surprised to see a Carlton Football Club raffle ticket in your letterbox with a note saying you owed Dad $2. He believed in hard work and integrity. I’d love to have a chat with him about all that is going on in the world now, and what to make of it all…


Eventually the tears subsided enough for me to finish folding my washing. Alanis played the whole time.


Wherever you are Dad, Happy Father’s Day.


Photo of Karen as a toddler with her Dad

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