Sunday, August 04, 2013

My father is dying.


And I am 1 500km away from him, with commitments to life that prevent me from putting everything on hold to sit at his bed as he gradually fades away. I am grateful for my sister Jan who has taken over his care. She has organised nursing, and when there are no nurses – she sits through the night with him.

I wrote this for her to read to him from me:


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Dear Dad
You have been a good father to me:
You gave me the skills and values I needed for life. From you I learned about faithfulness to my commitments, respect for my elders, and fair treatment towards all people, irrespective of their race, culture or social standing.

You set an example in your love for God, your passion for good worship, and your commitment to excellence in preaching.

Your love for singing rubbed off on me. You loved Methodist hymns. But you also loved fine choral music: I remember you singing parts from Handel's "Messiah" and seeing your obvious joy in carrying the baritone lines. I also learned to love poetry through your recitation of Wordsworth's "Daffodils" (I can hear you: "I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils").

Dad - I appreciate your sense of humour: you taught us limericks and doggerel that made us smile: here's one: "One fine day in the middle of the night, Two dead men got up to fight; one blind man to see fair play, one dumb man to shout 'hooray'; a paralysed donkey passing by - kicked the blind man in the eye ..."

One evening at Rocklands farm you took the time to teach me how to whistle - and after making me promise not to tell mom, you even helped me learn how to whistle at girls.

You taught me tennis, and we spent hours playing together at Camps Bay Club. I appreciated this father-son camaraderie.  During this time I learned far more than tennis: I learned the values of good sportsmanship: fair play, honesty, perseverance and a capacity to laugh at my mistakes.

Over the passing years we have not always agreed - as would be expected when the young puppy challenges the leader of the pack. But you never stopped praying for me - and I heard from others that you were proud of me - even when you couldn't tell me yourself.

So this is to say thank you for being my dad.

I love you.

Pete.

1 comment:

Barbara Shallue said...

Such a beautiful tribute and love letter. I'm so glad you were able to send it and have him hear your words. I'm sure it made his heart swell in love, pride, and gratitude.