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Things my dad has taught me

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Things my dad has taught me

So I’ve talked in the past about what we’ve learned along the way since my dad’s accident. But recently I’ve realised how much my dad himself has taught (and continues to teach) me. I thought I’d share a few of them, because after a bad meeting, or a traffic jam, or a family argument; it can feel like the end of the world but my dad has changed the way I look at life.

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

The amount of times I’ve visited my dad after a busy and stressful day, only to walk out an hour later calm and smiling and wondering what my problem was. The things that were driving me to distraction suddenly didn’t seem important when faced with his daily struggles to even remember when to eat, or to turn the lights on when it gets dark.

  1. Keep laughing

From the moment he got his speech back, my dad has continued to be silly. I’ve said before that he’s always been silly – and one of my biggest fears was that he’d lose this sense of fun. Thankfully it’s remained, and has been the source of a series of Facebook posts like the following:

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  1. Be compassionate

My dad has every reason to be a grumpy, selfish, inconsiderate old bugger. But he’s the opposite. He notices when I’m tired. Asks what’s up if I’m quiet. Tells me to send love/congratulations/best wishes (insert greeting here) to various family members when I tell him their news. He asks how my mum is, my sister, my brother, his friends and listens when I give him updates about them. He reminds me to look outside my bubble. No matter how hard things are, it’s not OK to forget about other people.

  1. Be honest

Due to his condition, my dad doesn’t have as many inhibitions anymore. That means that sometimes, what’s in his head comes out of his mouth. Often, he realises as soon as it’s been vocalised that it was inappropriate or rude, but not before. Now, I know that it’s socially polite to frame your criticism constructively, to smile and hold the door for someone even if they do shove past you without a backwards glance; or to sit out a boring conversation in order to avoid offence. I’m not suggesting we all start spewing out exactly what’s on our minds all the time – it would be chaos and we’d cause hurt.

However, wouldn’t it be great if we could just take a leaf out of my dad’s book – just to now and then stand up when someone is only talking about themselves and walk off without a word?! To tell someone they’re being loud and it’s bothering you.

  1. Forgive

OK, so maybe in his case it’s more often than not that he doesn’t remember, rather than that he forgives. But my dad doesn’t hold grudges. And when I do have to tell him off, or I snap because frankly, I’m human and sometimes my patience wears thin; he forgives me instantly. He’s the one who apologises – he gives me a hug – reaches over to touch my arm to get my attention and says he loves me. Nothing matters enough to overshadow our precious time together. I wish I could be more like him and remember what really matters in our brief time on this planet with the people we love.

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My dad’s cooler than your dad

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My dad’s cooler than your dad

So it’s Father’s Day, which means millions of insta-filtered images of Daddies and their not so little ones all over your Facebook feed (no judgement here – I’m the queen of the sentimental social media post).

fathers-dayGiven the year my family has had, I appreciate my blog has been already been pretty father-focussed. Nevertheless, I need to let you know something very important.

My dad is cooler than your dad.

I’m sure yours is lovely. I’m sure his hugs are warm, his jokes embarrassing and his taste in 70s rock music hilarious. But mine wins. He’s weird and funny and thoughtful and has a heart the size of the universe. He wears his pants on his head during video calls and pretends he can’t hear me when I put his hearing aids in. He’s useless with remembering dates but knows the names of every pet he’s come into contact with. He has the most enormous blue eyes you’ve ever seen and hardly any teeth. We’ve had exactly one argument in my whole life and it was over a boy who wasn’t good enough for me (Daddy was right). I’ve been to Cyprus, Corsica, Los Angeles, York, Orlando, France, Butlins and Dymchurch with him. Before the accident, since the accident and every day until I’m old and grey I’ll thank my lucky stars for him. Here’s why:

1) He went to the very first Isle of Wight Festival during his kaftan-and-long-hair-phase, with no worldly belongings and jumped the fence to get in and watch Jimi Hendrix.

2) He once poured a whole bowl of popcorn over my cousin’s head during a sleepover. No reason. He just thought it would be funny.

3) Even after his accident, and despite the fact I’m a 30 year old woman, he still tells my husband and mum to take care of me when we leave after visiting.

4) When he was a baby, my Granny left him in his pram outside a shop (it was the olden days….aka the 50s). A gypsy woman stopped by and told my Granny that my dad was beautiful and had “eyes like poached eggs”. Granny was always weirdly proud of this story, rest her soul.

5) He went to a posh boarding school and features on a hard-to-find recording of Alleluia with the choir.

6) Once he went to New York in the winter and took only boat shoes and no socks. Suffice to say he had to winter-fy himself when he arrived to 2 feet of snow.

7) His middle names are Miles and Wade…and he hates them.

8) He rarely calls people by their actual names. I’m Bomps, my brother is Diddy, my sister is Tam-Tam and one of my school friends when I was about 13 was always Furry Feet, due to a pair of fuzzy shoes she owned.

9) When my sister was a baby he’d grab her wellies, take her outside and go puddle jumping.

10) He is genuinely my very best friend in the world. Even now he gives me insightful advice, the best hugs, makes me cry with laughter and is always there when I need him.

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So to summarise…my dad is totally cooler than your dad. We win.

7 little lies we tell our loved ones

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I’ve noticed recently a number of untruths universally told to the people we love. Don’t worry, this isn’t some confession of a major indiscretion, just an observation that while trust and honesty are absolute pillars of any lasting relationship, there are certain ‘safe’ little white lies we seem to have accepted the world over.

I’ve put them in a list, because I’m a little bit anally retentive and also, everyone loves a good list post.

1) You’re beautiful even when you cry
John Legend recently claimed this in his goosebump-inducing chart-friendly ballad, ‘All of me’. While John undoubtedly has a beautiful voice and the song is lovely, he’s a big fat liar. No one is beautiful when they cry – male, female, old, young or somewhere in between. If you’re lucky you simply go an interesting shade of pink and get slightly puffy eyes. If you’re more like me, you’re a snotty, snivelling, squeaky mess with eyes like a mole who’s been underground a little too long. Not. Beautiful.

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2) I’m actually really into sport!
Not to make this about gender, but this one generally comes from the female of the species to their partner in the early stages of their relationship. I’m sure there are exceptions who genuinely discover a new passion. But I think in the majority, the incessant bickering about who controls the TV during any given sports season, once you’ve moved in together and ‘got serious’, contradicts the initial enthusiasm for rugby/American football/wrestling/cricket/hockey/Ultimate Frisbee (yep, that’s a thing).

3) You’re perfect just the way you are
How rubbish would that be?! If you genuinely met someone who had no discernible faults, you’d spend your whole life feeling like a seriously flawed individual. The best part about a good relationship/friendship is discovering each other’s flaws and imperfections. They’re like battle scars. “Hi I’m Hilary, I’m academically bright and friendly and good at writing and quite funny (sometimes). However, I’m also a tremendous worrier, bossy, stubborn and horrendously bad at maths.” No one likes perfection – what would we do with ourselves if there was no drama?

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4) I’m getting the next train/cab/bus
However you’re travelling, we’ve all replied to a text message letting our better half know that we’re “just leaving”. The fact that we actually leave the party/dinner/mate’s house 30 minutes later is neither here nor there. We’ll blame traffic, delays, or stopping for petrol.

5) You’re nothing like your mum
You’re exactly like your mum. Sorry hun, but your every mannerism, turn of phrase and facial feature is a miniature of the woman who gave birth to you. Happens to the best of us. And she’s really not so bad – she brought you up and you’re OK, right?!

6) Don’t worry about money, do what makes you happy
The sentiment is beautiful. And while I’m sure it would be true if everyone was filthy rich, for most this is a lie. We tell it with the best intentions, we genuinely want the other person to be happy. But whether you’re advising a friend, or having a conversation with your partner, money matters. It’s a sad fact of life. Absolutely you should be happy. But the ugly truth is that we work to live – and living (and shoe collections) require funds.

7) You weren’t that drunk
You were hammered. Falling over, dancing on the bar, slurring your words, sweaty-faced, drunk. But we’ve all fallen into the pit of hangover guilt. And we wouldn’t wish it on our worst enemy. So we minimise the storytelling the next day. We relive the funny moments before you threw up on a stranger and sang Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s my life’ to the bouncer. It’s the kinder thing to do. Also, we expect the same in return. FYI.
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I’m sure there are more – I’d love to hear them and I’ll add to the post if you fancy sharing. What little lies do you tell? Perhaps you don’t want to give them away in public. That’s OK, set up a fake Twitter account and use the hashtag #liestolovedones. I won’t tell, I promise.

Disclaimer: the final sentence might be a lie.