We cannot forget Father’s Day on June 17th and hope you all made an effort to make it a memorable day for Dad—it’s the little things that count, remember! The following is an extract from Journalist’s Fergal Keane’s collection of articles. His heartfelt message addressed to his newborn son, attracted huge response and will evoke lots of sentiment I’m sure.
Letter to Daniel, Hong Kong, February 1996
Daniel Patrick Keane was born on 4th February 1996.
My Dear Son,
It is 6 o’clock in the morning on the island of Hong Kong. You are asleep cradled in my left arm and I am learning the art of one-handed typing. Your mother, more tired yet more happy than I’ve ever known her, is sound asleep in the room next door and there is soft quiet in our apartment.
Since you’ve arrived, days have melted into night and back again and we are learning a new grammar, a long sentence whose punctuation marks are feeding and winding and nappy changing and these occasional moments of quiet.
When you’re older we’ll tell you that you were born in Britain’s last Asian colony in the lunar year of the pig and that when we brought you home, the staff of our apartment block gathered to wish you well. “It’s a boy, so lucky, so lucky. We Chinese love boys,” they told us. One man said you were the first baby to be born in the block in the year of the pig. This, he told us, was good Feng Shui, in other words a positive sign for the building and everyone who lived there.
Naturally, your mother and I were only too happy to believe that. We had wanted you and waited for you, imagined you and dreamed about you and now that you are here no dream can do justice to you. Outside the window, below us on the harbour, the ferries are ploughing back and forth to Kowloon. Millions are already up and moving about and the sun in slanting through the tower blocks and out on to the flat silver waters of the South China Sea. I can see the contrail of a jet over Lamma Island and, somewhere out there, the last stars flickering towards the other side of the world.
We have called you Daniel Patrick but I’ve been told by my Chinese friends that you should have a Chinese name as well and this glorious dawn sky makes me think we’ll call you Son of the Eastern Star. So that later, when you and I are far from Asia, perhaps standing on a beach some evening, I can point at the sky and tell you of the Orient and the times and the people we knew there in the last years of the twentieth century.
Daniel, when you let out your first powerful cry in the delivery room of the Adventist Hospital and I became a father, I thought of your grandfather and, foolish though it may seem, hoped that in some way he could hear, across the infinity between the living and the dead, your proud statement of arrival. For if he could hear, he would recognise the distinct voice of family, the sound of hope and new beginnings that you and all your innocence and freshness have brought to the world.
A Father is…
An ordinary man doing his best to stand in for Superman.
A source of good but usually expendable advice.
A very-nearly expert.
A man who knows—but would like to look it up just to be on the safe side.
A man who goes down fighting.
Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into adventurers, story-tellers, singers of songs.
Dads can do anything. The youth of dads was packed with excitement and their minds are packed with anecdotes.
They have sound views on politics, dogs, sport and saving the environment.
They have drawers and boxes and sheds full of valuable gadgets. And string.
They can tell unforgettable stories.
There really is a touch of magic in a dad.
They are no longer ordinary men.
They are special.
You know a man is an established father when you see him carrying a potty through a parking lot.
Dads know more about things than you’d credit. Only it’s best to check before you hand it in as homework.
Thank you Dad, for making me feel important, to you and to the world. Thank you for helping me believe I can do something well.
Thank you for changing other people’s “You obviously can’t do it” to “You obviously can’t do it. Yet… Let’s take another look.”
Thank you for walking the path beside me—pointing out the potholes and the slippery patches.
Thank you for recognizing the moment when I could work things out for myself—and letting me go on alone. But never completely alone.
Knowing you were there—at the end of a phone. At a place where I could always find you.
We looked to you for justice and advice in everything from the internal combustion engine to baking cakes—and we got it. And announced with confidence, “My Dad says…”