May The Spud Be With You.

I lost my father this past year, and the word feels right because I keep looking for him. As if he were misplaced. As if he could just turn up, like a sock or a set of keys.
— Mark Slouka

Today, Father's Day, is a weirdarse day. It feels empty, and nasty, and as though I should be writing a card for Osky the Spycat to give to the Man Who Vaguely Resembles David Tennant; simply to say "Happy Father's Day!" in a gesture of bravura and 'what the?' at the Spycat being able to write, having no opposable thumbs.

You never know, Osk may already have something up his fat furry sleeve. He is, after all, the master of interwebs mystery shopping. Inevitably his gift will rhyme with 'mouse' or 'catnip', so I feel rather sorry for the Man, but there we are. Father's Day is, after all, the gift that keeps on being shoved to the back of the linen cupboard, so he will be acting in the true spirit of the day, right?


Many of you will, by this point, be thinking 'huh?' (as is quite often the case in one of my auto-witters). So here is my point. As Mark Slouka pertinently says, I also lost my dad, my Kennebec, in this past year. Slouka is spot on with the word 'lost'. No matter what, I cannot bring myself to say "my dad is gone" - because he isn't. He's still here. Somewhere.

I'm just not quite sure where, and weirdly, it doesn't really matter. 

This isn't about being unable to admit he's dead, by the way. I know he is, and I refuse to use the euphemistic term 'he's passed on'. My dad died. He died in February, on the day after Valentine's Day, after a long and amazingly optimistic fight with the demon spawn that is cancer, and now he isn't alive anymore.

But that doesn't mean he is gone

He’s still here. I don’t know when he won’t be.

Does it even matter? 


Most of all, if your dad has already gone to the great recliner with beer fridge in the sky, celebrate him. Let him know that, much like the spare car keys, and the copy of your favourite Ian Banks book he borrowed two years ago, he's still missing.

I stress, on a day all about the paterfamilias, I’m not trying to hold onto some unreal hypothetical father. A dad who didn’t exist in reality. Some kind of miracle worker who could fix Foxtel in a single bound; Saint Kennebec of the Holy Tasmanian Potato who suddenly, after death, becomes a fast-tracked candidate for canonisation, and consists of a fondly and vastly inaccurately remembered combination of Don Bradman, Glenn Miller, Douglas Bader, Terry Pratchett, Fantastic Mr Fox and the Duke of Wellington. 

Dad is, was, a short-tempered, fairly impatient, shy, highly intelligent, genuine introvert who didn’t suffer fools lightly (believe me, I know), and had trouble expressing affection thanks to being the eldest of six boys. Anyone who experienced a Ken Stone hug will testify to the wondrous warmth and closeness they attempted and failed to exude. This didn't mean they weren't heartfelt and genuine, because they very much embodied both of these emotions. They were just massively, horribly awkward.

And not having them anymore is a vast hole in my heart.

My mum always says that I come to her for the little things. When it's something big, and scary, and monster under the bed time... well, that's the Kennebec SOS. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I can't say goodbye just yet.

It means the monsters will have free reign.

When I’m ready, Dad is, will become Dad was; until then, I’ll continue to hold him close, and keep him as he is, was, and always will be - just my Dad. Kennebec Richie Benaud Redux Stone. A better, far less violently swear-beary version of me, without the genetic input of my Mum’s stupendously bad sense of humour, propensity to snort loudly at one's own jokes, and horrendous genetic mutations. (Thanks, Mum). 

This post isn't supposed to be depressing, by the way. For those reading it, thinking "well, thank you, Kate, for raining all over Father's Day, you horrible little oik", accept my apologies.

It's actually a celebration. 

Celebrate your dads, if you are fortunate enough to still enjoy having them lurking around, making horrendous dad jokes and inappropriate comments about your weight/partner/writing/whatever tickles their fancy at the time and is embarrassing. If you are helping your kids pick out presents for their dads, ensure they are ones to be viewed with absolute horror, yet secretly treasured for years to come. 

Most of all, if your dad has already gone to the great recliner with beer fridge in the sky, celebrate him. Let him know that, much like the spare car keys, and the copy of your favourite Ian Banks book he borrowed two years ago, he's still missing. 

Because he is. He is on a map with no compass rose, and is therefore lost to all who love him; and we haven't yet found the way forward without him around to say "bloody hell, not another bloody [insert deliberate horrible Father's Day present here]." 

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

May the spud be with you.

At sixteen, you still think you can escape from your father. You aren’t listening to his voice speaking through your mouth, you don’t see how your gestures already mirror his; you don’t see him in the way you hold your body, in the way you sign your name. You don’t hear his whisper in your blood.
— Salman Rushdie, East, West.