Father’s Day family fun

Fathers Day is a continuum of family fun from lunch in father Frank’s nursing home to watching entranced as Scarlett took her first three steps.   This big step forward for a 13-month-old was a show-stopper for her doting dad, my son Tyson.

At the other end of the life cycle, Father Frank, on the cusp of turning 95, is now only able to walk with the aid of a walking frame.  I am the first family member to arrive and I give him a little gift of Maltezers and a bar of Nougat and place it on the bench. “:Don’t put it there,” someone might take it,” he says. “Hide it here” and indicates to put it on a lower shelf of his book case.

We are having lunch in the facility’s Kafe Schulz, so  for convenience and the distance we need to travel, I push him in a wheelchair.  He chatters along the way about the lush plantings we pass along the glazed corridor and when we passthe lift, he tells me he went to church “up in the lift” this morning.

“I don’t likek that thing,” he says and I wonder if my own fear of lifts in a genetic tendency rather than being stuck in one three times in one year in my youth.

Dad continues to amaze us with his appropriate responses to conversation. However, as a sign of dementia creeping into his world, he insists on telling me that I did a very good job of being MC at his 100th birthday.

“Dad, you are only turning 95 next month,” I tell him. His recollections are actually five years back of  a small gathering at the Renmark Institute to celebrate his 90th birthday. Only a handful of people came apart from his large family.

“Oh well, I am well on my way to 100 now, aren’t I?”” God-willing I will make it.”

My sister Anne and I sit either side of him and we form a small table of seven.  He claps his hands and announces that he is so lucky to have his two daughters either side of him.

“Where is the baby?” he asks.

We explain both babies of the family – his great-grandchildren – have their own fathers day lunches in their own homes.

“Well, they are welcome at my home at any time,” he adds.

“Don’t start eating until I have said grace,” he commands.

I move from the very old to the very young to visit my son Tyson and his father’s day gathering with his wife Vanessa, 13-month-old baby Scarlett and Vanessa’s parents, John and Sandra Herbig.

“Scarlett took her first three steps today towards her dad,” says Sandra, bursting with excitement.

“They were real steps, too. Come and have a look.”

There is a rule in the family that whomever is holding the baby when she poops her pants must clean her up.

Somehow this rule was bent the moment I arrived.l

“Mother, your timing is perfect,” he says.

“Scarlett needs to be attended to.”

Cleaning dirty nappies is one of the prices of being a welcome grandma.

I have the added thrill of changing her and am still wallowing in the joy of dressing her for her first birthday – another treat which followed my handling adirty nappy.

Then comes the big moment of the day. Scarlett marches back and forth behind a toy pusher.   It is necessary to manoeuvre her toy to a spot where she will let go and take two steps towards me.

Her exp9ression of delight and achievement is written all over her face.  And we clap our hands in sheer joy. “Good girl!” we exclaim.

“She is such a delight,” says John.

I survey our happy scene – the three grand-parents idolising our little girl and I think. Yes, Father’s Day is a commercial event, but it is also a wonderful chance for families togather and enjoy family life.



“She will be walking by the end of the week,” I say.