Happy Birth Day Peter

Today would have been Peter’s birthday. He died a ways ago, so I guess it doesn’t really count as a day of celebration any more, but still, it’s nice to have a day where you take some care to remember. I created a lovely day for myself: did some jobs early so I could feel smug, had a beautiful brunch in the sun with a friend who knew him well (we didn’t talk about him, nor did I tell her what day it was- it was enough to know that if I did tell a Peter story she would get it- sometimes I wonder if that’s the whole point of my life- to have people around me who get it), and then came home in time to take a moment on the top deck and look out to sea.

Peter was my Dad-not-dad. He wasn’t the one who donated the DNA, but he was the one who got into my head and heart and made my DNA worth something. He indulged my love of books, teaching me that it was okay to love what I love. He championed my writings, telling me that I had a voice that was worth listening to. He sat patiently and taught me maths that was beyond my comprehension, showing me tenacity, patience, and that I was worthy. He encouraged and helped me set up my first practice despite me being so very green, reminding me that I could do anything I put my mind to, and that he believed in me. He bought my records from me when I said that CDs were the NEWTHING and vinyl was passé, showing me (years later: this one took awhile Bluey) that not everything that is old is rubbish, and that there is value in things past, and that yes *sigh* after it all, it seems that your music taste (Tom Waites, Chain, George Thorogood, Bob Marley) may have been better than mine (Bucks Fizz, Duran Duran, Wham).

I could tell you so many things that I learnt from my Dadnotdad.

And today on his birthday I am trying to decide which one is the bestest.

It’s hard to figure, because the learnings have become mixed with the person I see as ‘me’, so I’m left knotted in what was already here, what he helped expand, and what would have died a little if it wasn’t so carefully tended. I know I’ll never unravel the tangled truth, but as I sit here on my balcony, I give thanks to the man who met a woman and fell so deeply in love with her that he took on three feral children* as his own, doing it so gently that they never had reason to rebel against him or say they weren’t his. For the man who was such an unobtrusive supporter of the woman he loved that we didn’t even realise how beautifully he held her until he died- the subtle cough as he touched her shoulder and reminded her that he was there, that he had her back, and that he would always support her? THAT is a rare and precious gift.

Perhaps most of all I give thanks to the man who taught us how to savour the moments. The man who diligently worked himself up from the mailroom to state-manager, the man who came from a rougher area but never let that become a chip to carry, the man who was never too proud to sweat and toil to pay yet another bill, the man who would always look to bring others up with him as he rose.

When I had my own family my Dadnotdad would come to our home, make some reason to spiral up to the top balcony, crack open a beer or pour a good red, and look out to that big blue that matched his eyes so well and say, “I wonder what the poor people are doing?”And every time it would make us laugh, and we would say, “This. The poor people are doing this.”

And how they love it.

So yes, this afternoon I am sitting up here and savouring, and thanking you for all of it.

Happy birthday Peter.

* Well two really- I wasn’t feral, but the twins sure as heck wanted to be.