Yesterday, we headed to my Dad's house in North Yorkshire to celebrate Fathers' Day. Into the people carrier jump Mum, Dad, three children and 2 Labrador dogs. We were there in about a hour. It always amazes me how you can go from socially and economically deprived area to lush "Escape to the Country" territory in such a short amount of time. Dad lives in a bungalow on a farm surrounded by rolling fields and woodland. He loves it and says how ironic it is that someone who has lived for most of his life in a market town, has settled to country living so well in his seventies and eighties.
As soon as we arrive, the children run in followed by the statesman like older Labrador who likes nothing better than to sleep and the mad puppy who hurtles up and down the corridor like a greyhound on speed.
Dad jumps up and he becomes involved in bacon-sarnie making. Sometimes I wish he would relax more but as soon as we arrive, there is a huge fuss about feeding us and making us drinks. Since Mum died last year, he tries to take her place that way I think. So I can't comment or criticise him as it comes from a good place. As Dad ages, he is slowing down mentally and there is a mild torture in watching him try to work ot where things are in the kitchen. It is such a difficult balancing act between offering help in a subtle way or winding him up by exposing his failings.
The mission of the bacon sandwiches is achieved without major mishap and we settle in the lounge and chat. When lunch is over, I hand the pressies over for the children to hand out to my Dad and theirs. My husband is delighted with his cufflinks, his hipflask and his Mensa games. Summaries him really - cufflinks because he works hard and likes to be smart, Hardy Amies because he likes a drink and I have pretensions of grandeur so could not leave it on the shelf and Mensa games because he reckons he could be a member. In the latter, I expect he is right as he is very intelligent and far more so than his qualifications suggest.
There is chocolate for my Dad and a book about Ewan McGregor travelling around the world on a motorbike. Radical choice as usually I buy Dad books on spies or the war. So he looks a bit confused at first but then when he sees a map in the book, gets very interested and pleased. My 9 year old has bought his Grandad a Bournville chocolate bar - his first genuine (as in he bought it not me) gift for his Grandad. A milestone and makes me realise how much Mum has already missed out on since she left us in September last year. My 6 year old daughter has chosen a Monet card for him and even written in it "In case you have not noticed, this is a Monet!". She is ever the artist! He loves that it is a personal greeting and in beautiful handwriting too. She loves to write - she loves to make marks on the world. My 4 year old thug on small legs rampages around not really taking part in the Fathers Day ceremonies but Dad adores his boisterous attitude so all is well.
We spend the day talking of times old and new. The children play both inside and in the garden racing around and playing football. They enjoy pancakes - a sign we are recovering when they can have pancakes for lunch and it is OK instead of gut-wrenching as they loved Grandma's pancakes so much. The grown-ups have meat and salad for tea followed by ice-cream for everyone.
We are all sad to leave and look longingly at a cottage to rent just down the road from Dad's place. Should we upsticks to be near him or stay where we are to avoid a long commute for my husband. Another balancing act and I am unsure what to do for the best. In the meantime, let's concentrate on a very Happy Fathers' Day.