Dear Max and Rebecca
It was Father’s Day on Sunday, and you’ll no doubt by now know what incredible dads you each have, and how each gives you the best of himself and more. You two are so loved by your fathers, and I don’t think you could be in better hands and under better care to be supported and propelled, and I’m grateful you have such extraordinary dads.
My dad (aka Grandpa/Gampa David) is also quite extraordinary, and though it’s been complex in the past, and maybe atypical (for lack of a better word), there’s no one I look up to more than him. He gets me, and I get him, and he is the family member who I’ve always felt closest to in my life.
He makes you guys laugh A LOT, and I’m sure that as you get older, you’ll get closer to him, and realise more than just the laughs why he’s so awesome. He’s very very smart too, so ask him anything about anything – from history and numbers to culture and wine. He’s also fair, open-minded and thoughtful, so if you’re ever needing an opinion or some guidance when things are wonky, he’s your guy. He’s generous to his family, so turn to him if you need anything. He used to be smart and run, but then he turned to the dark side and started cycling (he’s very good at it, so we’ll forgive him).
On the topic of cycling, a few years ago, while running one morning when it was still dark, my friends and I came across a cyclist who greeted us with a “Morning”. It’s quite unusual in Joburg to be greeted by a cyclist when you’re a runner, and vice versa. It’s just not such a done thing. I was about to carry on running, when I realised it was my dad who had greeted us! He hadn’t recognised me, but in his friendly way, greeted to be polite.
I hear about this friendliness whenever I meet someone who knew my dad. Since we have such an uncommon surname, people quickly make the connection that we’re related, and I’ve heard dozens of stories about my dad’s integrity, down to earth character, open-door policy (ie a good communicator with his team), fair, smart and kind. It makes me happy hearing these stories, and there’s never a time I don’t feel proud to carry my surname.
Your grandpa has carried lots on his shoulders for so much of his life, yet he’s one of the most chilled, content and humorous dudes around. If you’re ever stuck or sad in life, speak to him – he will offer deep and genuine empathy, and will likely guide you wisely and gently. Take it. It’s golden.
Ask him what book you should read, and what movie to watch. Ask him about his bonsais (make sure you have a good amount of time to listen) and about his travels. Ask him about how he got chased by a rhino when he was younger, about what the army was like, and the ups and downs of his career. Ask him about his parents and their family, and the ones we lost. These are important stories to tell, and I’m sorry I didn’t think to find out more from my grandparents when they were alive, or to discover more about who they were.
Make the most of who you have, and count on the good ones.
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