And so it was that I woke up to the fact that the man, once a young man younger than I, married at what is now half my age, was now an elder statesman. And of course, throughout that vital transformation, one thing had remained constant. He had always been (and continues to be) Dad.
What is there to say about him? Deep eyes, brown, kind and crinkly in the lines around them, but deep enough for a person looking at his gaze to not be utterly certain of survival. He has made many hard decisions in his youth, and not said a word to anyone, except perhaps to Mum. He keeps mum, most of the time.
He has a delicate pedantry about him. It is punctuated frequently with the kind of hilarious wordplay and curiously erudite thought that makes you realise the pedantry is just one of the things he can do. I remember reading from the Book and having him mentally track down the exact chapter and verse; I remember doing it in reverse.
He used to run around the garden a lot, just to entertain me. He did it less with my siblings; by the time my sister came along, he did it less only because the garden was soon replaced by a much smaller one, and because perhaps he was a decade older and busier. But he always tried. He still does and, as in the past, often succeeds.
It has taken me this long to write anything substantial about him because there is just too much to write about. Some fathers are existentially pervasive. They never go away because they are just too much.
He is one. I have too many memories, too many legendary moments. I will never forget the day I carelessly dropped a book in a roaring storm drain. He took a look and said, "Forget it." I was outraged, upset. A few years later, he bought me another copy when I wasn't expecting it.
If I have learnt anything about teaching, I have learnt it through great mentors; my parents first of all, my grandparents as well, and some excellent people God has given me for colleagues. But in Dad's case, I have always been amused when those I teach have wound up in his tutorials and lectures. That's when they learn that all good things come from somewhere else, that there is nothing new under the sun, that wisdom is transmissible.
I have not written this in any kind of well-structured way because there is too much to write. But I've felt that something still must be laid down as a marker for this particular day, and so this is it. Happy 70th, my father.