Father’s Day. To the ire of traditionalists, this ‘Hallmark holiday’ has earned its place in the supermarket aisles – perhaps even overtaking Mothering Sunday. (No Easter egg distractions. Good move, dads.)
Friends and extended family have trodden on eggshells around me for the last two Father’s Days. Having lost a parent in 2019, I find myself answering well-intentioned “thinking of you” messages. I really appreciate the thought, but I’m fine.
2019 was a little more difficult. The ‘firsts’ are always the hardest. This year, I’m going to take a different approach.
Very few of you had the pleasure of knowing Keith Ian Thompson. Those who did know he had a wicked sense of humour, an immeasurable talent for music and languages, and a whole lot of wisdom.
Now he’s no longer with us, I feel it’s my duty to pass on some of this insight. Few of these are Keith Thompson originals, of course, but they are valuable life lessons, or humorous pearls of wisdom. A big thanks to my family for sending me these – I hope you can learn from them.
“Even if you’re shovelling shit, you may as well be the best shit shoveller there is.”
If you’re not into foul language, look away now. Tremendous vocabulary, mein papa.
I like this one – it instils a great sense of work ethic. Makes me think back to my working days as a student, lamenting the grind of working on tills or making coffees. If you’re in a crummy job, you won’t be in it forever. In the meantime, you may as well give it your best shot. If you don’t, you’re only making it harder for yourself.
“PICNIC – problem in chair, not in computer.”
An alternative here is “the nut holding the steering wheel”. Translation? A poor workman blames his tools. As an IT manager, Dad dealt with his fair share of impatient folks who refused to read instructions. I like to think this one teaches us the value of patience.
“Patience is a virtue.”
Speaking of patience, here’s one he would regularly shout out of the windows at reckless drivers. I’m not sure why, really, because he had a very naughty habit of speeding in the 90s. That said, fast forward 20 years and he told me he didn’t bother speeding anymore. “The technology is so sophisticated, it’s not worth it.” So wise.
“You will never be Kate Moss.”
Ouch. For an 11-year-old girl (at the height of Kate Moss’ fame, I hasten to add), that was a bitter pill to swallow. In response to my fatuous whining over calories, he told me I would always be curvy. Perhaps he didn’t phrase it too sensitively, but he did teach me to accept myself. We should all learn to love ourselves – especially if it means we can dance around the room to Lizzo.
“It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.”
Hmmm. Not sure there’s a whole lot of value to this one, but three of my siblings mentioned it. I guess what we can take from this is that anger is temporary. It too shall pass.
“Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody’s got one.”
While we’re on the vulgar aphorisms, Dad’s wife, Eileen, offered me this one. I’d personally infer that we shouldn’t be offended by a healthy debate. Everybody has their own outlook on life and we are all a product of our environment.
“It would be a boring old world if we were all the same.”
The above leads into this one nicely. He’d often spout this during petty squabbles – for example, crunchy or smooth peanut butter.
“Spoiling children teaches them the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”
I love this one – yes, because I’m smug and have no children to spoil, but I’ve seen it time and again with youngsters, keen to get their hands on the latest smartphone. Real value comes from knowing you earned something. It was applicable to my pocket money and sweets, and it’s just as relevant today.
“Thank goodness I found a relationship before instant gratification culture.”
This isn’t a direct quote, but a lead-in to a longer rant about the “fast food generation”. In his final weeks, he was reflecting on life. He mused that relationships fail today because people are always looking for something else. We want something. We click. It’s there. Sometimes we need to sit still and appreciate what we’ve got. He married twice, but in his second relationship, he enjoyed 17 happy years.
“In my experience, it’s best to say nothing.”
Now, we need context here. He wasn’t referring to political or social causes, rather gossiping. I believe we were chatting about some long-forgotten issue, and discussed “keeping it quiet”. He said he’d always found it’s better to keep your mouth shut – gossiping only stokes the flames. Anything for a quiet life, eh Pop?
“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt.”
Of course, this is Mark Twain – but even when they were from someone else, these little adages always seemed more meaningful coming out of Dad’s mouth. If you don’t know, don’t try and look clever!
“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”
Hands down, this is my absolute favourite. This little beauty will soon be inscribed on my skin forevermore as it’s so plain and simple. Have you got a problem? Yep. Can you do something about it? Yep. Then why are you complaining?
Obviously, we can’t apply this logic to everything – it’s more applicable to individual weight loss than world famine, for example. But for those little nagging issues, like a painting you need to hang or a phone call to the doctor, it works. It’s a great bit of tough love here. Only YOU have the power to change your life. Go out and do it.
Happy Father’s Day
I hope you all had a smashing Father’s Day, whether you were with your biological dad, your guardian, your kids or just somebody you love.
And if he’s not around, remember – he lives on in your memories.