Growing up I was fortunate to have two Dads.
The Baby Boomer Generation are between the ages of 54 and 72 today. Their parents, the generation known as Traditionalists or The Silent Generation, would be 73 and older. Many of the young adults of the Silent Generation, lived through The Great Depression (1929 – 1939) and World War II (1939 – 1945), and survived many outbreaks of diseases, that killed thousands of people.
After the war, industrialisation boomed, requiring men and women to work in the many factories that sprung up. This new economic activity quickly built up a middle-class, hungry for a better life than their parents had. Having come through tough times, they worked hard to carve out a better future for their children.
My brother was born first, then my two sisters, and I was born last. There is an eleven-year age gap between the birth of my brother and me. By the time I was born, my dad was 40. Being from a generation that had gone through some pretty tough times, my dad took the responsibility of being the head of the household seriously. His tough manner extending to how he raised us kids. ‘Children should be seen and not heard,’ would be a good way of describing how my dad saw children. Don’t get me wrong, he was a loving, kind and caring father, he just wasn’t anyone’s ‘playmate.’
From a young age, my 11-year older brother, took me under his wing. I think he saw that my dad wasn’t the type to kick a ball, or spend time playing with me, so he stepped up and filled that role. More than a bigger brother normally would.
My brother was a sponge to information, any information. Everything from chemistry, science, maths, history, music, space, religion, the earth, psychology, the human body, animals, insects, business, sports, ancient literature, Greek mythology, he consumed and retained almost anything worth knowing. At school, he excelled academically, as well as on the sports field. In high school, he played first team rugby and was an all-rounder in athletics. With all this skill and knowledge, he set about sharing all he had learned with me. After school, he went on to gather three degrees, from various universities over a 10-year period. He shared his passion for learning with me, a joy I still have to this day.
My brother taught me how to kick a ball, helped me to read and write and do arithmetic. He taught me how to be inquisitive and curious about everything. But most of all, he taught me how to be a good person. He took the responsibility of being my role model seriously, being careful to always set a good example. I was a willing and loyal student because he made learning fun.
At the age of six, he taught me to play guitar. We were both playing guitar, me on a nylon six-string, him on a twelve-string, singing duets, harmonising and making music. He taught me how to draw a dragster, in perspective. He taught me how to paint, to use space, colour, and texture, to make art and be vulnerable enough to display it. He taught me how to build kites that would fly so high, they would vanish in the clouds. He bought me a Meccano set, and used it to teach me everything from construction and physics, to steam-power and geometry.
My real dad and I became best friends when I turned 16. I remember playfully punching him on the arm without thinking, and I feared retaliation. Instead he responded by playfully punching me back. My dad treated me like an adult from that point onwards, and was my biggest fan until the day he died.
My brother filled the role of being my second ‘Dad’ without ever seeing it as a chore, but rather as an opportunity to be generous. His generosity teed me up in so many areas of my life.
I owe them a debt of gratitude to my Two Dads, who both loved me enough to try make me a better me.