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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

By Norma-Anne Hough


My dad was born in 1910. He was one of seven children. His father was killed by a hit and run motorist. Three months later his mother died of a broken heart. He was working and he supported his youngest sister who was still at school. He met my mother when she came to work for the same firm as him. Mum was the junior in the office, he was her boss. Although much older than her he fell in love with her.

World War 2 intervened. Dad signed up and was posted overseas. It was a difficult time for them all but they survived. They married soon after the end of the war.

Merna the oldest was born in 1947, I followed closely behind and then a few years later Michele arrived. We were a very ordinary family. After sharing a house with my grandparents we moved out into the country. Dad worked in the city still and had to catch a bus each day as we could not afford a car. We had a magical childhood. Our parents allowed us to play in the bush which surrounded our home. The community we lived in was very close with lots of young children so we always had friends playing with us.

Dad had an awesome imagination. He would tell us stories each night at bed time that he had made up. He also wrote beautiful poetry for my mother and would leave poems under her pillow.
He made lots of sacrifices for us children when we were growing up. Passing up on promotion in his job if it meant a move as he wanted us to have a stable home. He also worked at home of an evening to bring in extra income.

Dad loved his garden. Azaleas were his specialty. He made a yearly trip to Natal to buy new species. Every year our garden was featured in the local newspaper. Visitors would stream out from town to see his garden. He had over 400 azaleas. What a magnificent sight they were when in full bloom. People would phone and ask his advice on growing them.

Michele my youngest sister shared a wonderful bond with my dad. She is also an excellent mimic. When dad was injured in a nasty car accident which left him lame, she used to copy his walk and have us all in stitches. My maternal grandmother adored these little shows and greatly encouraged Michele. Dad would love it as well.
Michele could do no wrong in his eyes.

When she was in high school dad brought himself a duffel jacket. She and her friends thought this was very funny, as the jacket made him look huge. They nicknamed him Chunky Charlie.

Merna my older sister had many parties at our home when she was studying at the local university. My parents would not go out as they refused to leave the parties unsupervised. At midnight mum would start making toasted cheese sandwiches for the “poor starving boys.” Dad would help her out. The students loved them.
They never misbehaved always treating our home with respect.

As I got older my relationship with dad got a bit strained. Being the middle daughter I had always had a problem with certain issues. Dad could not understand me. Eventually I moved away from home for a year. It was a wise decision. After I returned there we were able to bond better.

Dad died suddenly when I was expecting my second daughter. I never got a chance to say good bye. For years I battled with unforgiveness and guilt. It took deep ministry to release me.
I felt the need to express to him my feelings, so I sat down and wrote a letter. I told him I loved him but had been unable to show it. I also said I was mad that he died before I could say good bye. I was able to bare my soul. Once written I posted it to my mum asking her to read it, as I knew it would help her understand me better. She cried for two days before she could phone me to thank me.

I made a choice to forgive him. Through that choice, peace, love and understanding have come for a man who loved us all deeply. I also know that my writing ability comes from him. Thanks dad, I love and miss you.

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This article has been read 892 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leticia Caroccio04/17/08
Poignantly written. I could feel your heart as I read your words. Fathers and daughters can sometimes have complicated relationships. Nice job.
Dee Yoder 04/18/08
This is a tender and loving story. I'm glad you were able to gain some peace about your feelings when your dad died suddenly. I'm sure he would be proud that your wrote this about him.
Debbie Wistrom04/18/08
Great title, sounds like he was the king of more than flowers. Thanks for sharing your tender memories.
Jan Ackerson 04/20/08
Good portrayal of a complex relationship, and a great title.

I'd recommend that you open with the paragraph about his imagination--that's where the hook is. And perhaps a few more commas throughout?

dub W04/21/08
Very touching. I enjoyed it. A little work and your writing will go a long way. Thank you for sharing this.
Kenneth Heath04/23/08
Hi Norma, who can forget "Chunky Charlie." Your dad was very precious, knowing the value of a stable family and he sounds like a love.Life is full of learning curves and as I reflect on your own lovely family I believe that you learned your lessions well. Thanks for sharing with us. Love Ken.
Marlene Austin05/01/08
A moving personal narrative.
You made it obvious to the reader that there was much love here among all the family. :) Personal, emotional piece - yet well-controlled. Really good writing.