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September 1 is officially designated the first day of spring here in New Zealand, and yesterday it really lived up to its name.  Glorious sunshine, little wind and reasonable temperatures.  We all felt that spring was here.

Today we woke to grey skies but its spring and the first Sunday in September is Fathers’ Day here.  So all around the place fathers were opening gifts, children were excitedly helping and mothers were doing what mothers do, that is keeping the peace and ensuring that nobody became over excited.

What does Fathers’ Day mean to you and your family?  Do you celebrate with gift giving and special dinners or is it just another day to you?  Growing up in England we didn’t celebrate Fathers’ Day – I don’t remember when people started celebrating Fathers on particular day.  We were very lucky in that our Father was worth celebrating each day.

My memories of this man are many and special.  It was he who taught his three girls the appreciation of the English language and shared with us his love of words.  He taught us to be tolerant and to accept people as they are and he showered us with love.  He it was who told us that more could be accomplished with a smile than with harsh words. He taught us the power of positive thought and told he daughters they could have and be anything they wanted.  He made us feel special.

Early memories of my Father are sketchy as he went to war shortly after I was born, but there are some lovely photos of him with each of his daughters.

A very distinct memory was one Saturday way back in 1945 I think – if my older sister is reading this she will be able to confirm which year.  Anyway, Mother and her three girls had been to the market for the weekly shopping and when we returned home there was this man sitting in the living room.  Daddy had come home from the war.  My parents were not terribly demonstrative and I remember the greeting just as if they had seen each other that morning.  Oh how glad I was to have my Daddy back safe and sound.

Another memory is the day I was getting married.  Everyone had left for the church and he had to make sure that I was very sure that I wanted to marry and spend my life with my  Dashing Young Scotsman.  He assured me that it wasn’t too late to change my mind and then sat in the bridal car holding my hand all the way to the church.

When my daughter was born (his first grandchild) he was as excited as a first time father.  And when we gave her Mother’s name as her second name he was ready to burst with love and pride.

When his first grandchild was born he was over the moon; when his great-grandson was born his response on being asked ‘How do you feel about being a great grandfather?’ was “I’ve always been a Great grandfather’.

And years later when he was going blind he taught himself to do the crossword with my younger sister reading the clues to him while he supplied the answers.

Memories, memories so many happy memories.  Lazy winter nights at home while he read to us or we all listened to something special on the radio.  And later all watching television together and debating the merits of a particular play or actor.

When we were growing up he was strict but he was fair.  If he decreed something was so and we could counter with an acceptable argument he was likely to change the decree.  But he was a stickler for being on time, coming home when one was told to and he insisted that we behave as ladies at all times.  I must say that the final requirement in that sentence was not always adhered to.

Unfortunately, my children didn’t really know this very special man as we lived ont he other side of the world, only getting back to see him and Mother every two years.  But they do know how special he was from the tales I have told them over the years.

That was my Dad.  A very special Father who sadly is no longer with us. He was not religious and at his funeral they played Frank Singing “Unforgettable”.  That sums up my Dad.  I miss him as I know both of my sisters do and am grateful that we were blessed with such a great father.

“To live in lives with leave behind
is not to die.”
Judith Baxter, daughter, sister & friend.

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