Yesterday I was at a swimming gala.
looking after 42 young swimmers,
when a wonderful memory of my dad just rose to the surface.
I was an undersized 9 year old,
swimming in my first gala.
I had been entered to swim in the 100 metres butterfly.
I can clearly remember the fear I felt.
For those who do not know,
butterfly is physically a very challenging stroke.
Being young, undersized and in my first meet it was a lot to ask.
Too much as far as I was concerned!
We lined up.
I was distraught.
No way out.
The whistle blew and I put on my goggles.
I can remember them misting up quickly because I was crying.
“Take your marks”
As I “took my marks” I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I looked around and my dad was there.
He said, “Do you not want to swim?”.
I sobbed, “No”.
He held out his arms and I jumped in.
I can remember him carrying me away.
It was the most wonderful feeling.
Away from that pool.
Away from that awful experience.
I kept my head buried so I did not have to look at anyone.
It was just me and my dad!
I have never, ever forgotten that moment.
My dad died in his early fifties.
Leaving us all way too soon.
He never got to see me married,
or to see my children.
He did however leave me many wonderful memories.
So to other dads I would say,
You don’t have to be the greatest sports man,
Or the best at DIY.
You do not have to be a macho man,
nor must you buy your children all they ask for.
To be a real dad,
you just need to be there when you are needed,
and show your children they are loved.
Just as my dad did,
and I will never forget him for it.