NewsWhat’s in a Father’s Day card, apart from the only message which counts: 'I love you'
What’s in a Father’s Day card, apart from the only message which counts: 'I love you'

What’s in a Father’s Day card, apart from the only message which counts: 'I love you'

It showed some conceit but I bought myself a Father’s Day card this year to give to my teenage son. He’s now living far away and might not get around to recognising this quaint custom.

It reads: "Thanks DAD for everything you taught me and every adventure we shared… it’s all here with me, wherever I go.” The card was adorned with maps, compasses and globes.

My wife, as ever wise to such matters, suggested not donating it to him, during a recent visit delivering his first car, because any card only really counts if he had found the stamp, signed and posted it himself.

I resigned myself to a first Father’s Day with no kids left living in the house and stared longingly at the tempting travel and expeditions promised by the artwork on the cheap blue card.

Then it struck me. Perhaps deep in my feelings, I hadn’t bought the card for myself so much as to send to my own dear dead father (that's him in the pic - but there’s no postal service where he now resides).

It seemed ridiculous given he was never the adventurous or risk-taking kind, quite the oppositive in fact. And it still slightly smarts that he never took me camping, exploring or hiking (despite this I’m keen on them all, as is my teenager).

The truth of the matter was that straight out of school and after service in Burma in WW2 he promised, if he survived, he’d never walk if he could drive and would never ever sleep under canvas or in the open air again.

As ever he was true to his word and never did. Sadly the ciggies the army handed out so generously and rashly to soldiers cemented into a dreary habit that reduced his energy and life.

Yet despite his understandable distaste for getting dirty in the great outdoors, it didn’t stop me getting a small tent as soon as I was able and striking out into the relative wilds.

Over the years, he held himself closer and more tightly to our home and neighbourhood whereas I took off further and faster and sometimes quite furiously to discover the world for myself.

When he died suddenly and without warning, his heart clogged by too many tens of thousands of smokes, in the UK on 16 September 1993 I - by chance - happened to be there.

I had already said goodbye at the airport as if I’d never see him again as us families who live on opposite side of the world soon learn to do.

All I said that counted was “I love you” and held him tight which embarrassed him a little. I can still see him lingering at the departure gate in that blue V-neck sweater and waving to the last. Soon afterwards and thankfully not whilst driving he literally dropped dead at a neighbour’s front door while doing them a good turn.

Looking at this card now it seems a perfect message for him from me beneath the corny-looking greeting. He taught me so much, hopefully as your fathers also did, and not always in obvious ways. Being a canny shopper was one of them!

We did share adventures, again not in a conventional sense, and I now appreciate by the time us twins were born, he had had enough adventures for a lifetime.

So Dearest Dad, and this is also to Dads everywhere, I’m still learning from everything you showed me and every experience we shared. Most importantly it’s about the key experience of fatherhood for better or worse:

“ …. it’s all here with me, wherever I go.”

I really don’t need a card from my teenager this Father’s Day. He’s sent a simple but heartfelt text thanking me for delivering the car. Should he feel even a fraction of the gratitude I have towards all my Dad did for me that would be ample reward in itself.

So this Father’s Day you may care to read between the lines of the card’s greetings and find what it is you’d really like to say to your Dad, wherever he is, and then make sure you let him know.


Any information general advice, it does not take into account your individual circumstances, objectives, financial situation or needs.


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Michael from SA commented:

I had never got to know my Father. when I was born he had left the house. I met him a couple of times during his life - but they ended badly. It was just before his 56th Birthday my wife and I met up with him and his new wife - all sober. It was good to hear him tell stories of his life, and tears fell. It was 7 days later I told him I loved him, and he passed away in my arms at Hospital. At least I got to say goodbye, and I loved him. I brushed his hair, and he was gone. He was 56 years old, and he never got to meet his Grandchildren from his eldest son me. So everyday is Fathers day to me with my 3 son's, and I tell them daily I love them, and hug them when we meet up. I am now 55 years of age, and still hug and kiss my son's and it is a shame he is not hear to see us all with his Granddaughter, and our son's all grown up. So love your children, and treat them well as a Father, and tell them often they are loved. Regards Michael Daniels 

Leah from NSW commented:

Thanks Chris for your heart felt message regarding you and your father's relationship. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about my own dad (who left us suddenly 5 yrs ago - I didn't get to say goodbye or tell him that I did love him). Like so many men born during the years of depression and war he was not a demonstrative man and didn't know how to show love as we would describe it today, but he worked hard to support his family and didn't shirk his responsibilities even when suffering from debilitating conditions that sapped strength and life from him daily. I can now look back and thank him for a strong work ethic, integrity in business dealings and responsibility for your own actions. This Father's Day I will raise a glass and tell him "I Love You" and give thanks for the years I did have him. 

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