My dad always insisted his five children, from a young age, never called him “dad” but by his name, “Tim.”
Not because he was uncomfortable with the term or not worthy of the title but because he envisaged a day in the future when his children would be adults and he wanted to be seen as more than a dad but as a friend too.
Or maybe he just didn’t want us shouting “dad” at him in public because he’d have to admit that we were related and suffer the embarrassment?
At school, I would always refer to my parents as “Mum and Tim” which other children found strange as the only dads with actual names were step-dads. All biological dads were called “dad.” Those were the rules.
So, I was often asked: “Why do you call your dad, Tim?” and I’d always reply “Because that’s his name. Why would I call him Eric?”
But at that time, having a dad with a name didn’t mean I knew him any better as a person.
He would go out to work at 6am and return home in the late evening to a ridiculously burnt dinner.
Afterwards, he would sit in his armchair with the newspaper over his face. I had no idea what he looked like and for three years I thought he was Princess Diana.
A couple of months after my mum died, my dad left his job as a lift engineer and took early retirement. It was only then that I got to know my dad as a real person with hopes and fears like everyone else.
He’s 88 now and I spend most days caring for him in any small way that I can. It can never be enough. How can you ever fully repay someone who is 50% responsible for your very existence?
Today, it’s now an honour to call my dad, “dad” and, as a friend, “Tim”.
Happy Father’s Day, Tim.