Yesterday being Fathers Day, my sister and I, and our gaggle of children descended on our parents house to celebrate our Dad.
What became immediately apparent, was that despite the fact that we spent the first half hour giving presents to Miss Three Year Old and Masterly One and a Half Year Old, chatting with Mum about dinner, swapping stories with each other, practically anything and everything except to do with Dad, he sat there with good grace and patience, and offered us all a drink.
When he was sent out the back - alone - to put the bbq on while we all stayed inside and gossiped, he did so with a smile on his face.
When he was given a drawing from the hand of the Blonde Bombshell, depicting him as an overstuffed couch with triangle legs and chicken feet, he oohed and ahhed at the genius of it.
When the kids demanded music to dance to, he dug around in the his old vinyl collection until he found the record my sister and I would dance to 30 years ago, and then joined in with enthusiasm (although perhaps with more substance than style).
When the youngest grandchild demanded a lap to sit in, and a male to talk trucks with, my Dad spent at least half an hour repeating the names of various trucks and cars and fire engines. Over and over. And then some more. All with a smile (perhaps wearying by now).
When the four kids ran manically around the house, getting faster and louder and more silly each time, he only raised his voice slightly (to be heard over the din). He just shrugged his shoulders and stayed out of their way, and poured us all another drink.
When the toddlers threw their food out of the high chairs onto the carpet, he told us not to worry, and to just enjoy our dinner (however he was out of the room when Miss Curly Mop threw her dessert against the wall and we watched it gradually roll its way down, until it finally wedged itself on the skirting board).
And then after dinner, while the three women escaped into the quiet sanity of the kitchen, he sat with his four grandchildren, reading them stories, letting them crawl all over him, pull his moustache, and loved every moment of it.
* * *
As we were packing the cars for the drive home, my sister and I discussed how sad it was that we didn't really truly fully appreciate our parents until we became parents ourselves. When we realised it meant that we had at least 25 years before being appreciated ourselves by our own children, I decided that I could try and take a leaf out of my dad's book: smile and be patient with good grace (and possibly a nice glass of wine).
I love you Dad.