My Dad and I had a particular kind of love that was born of years and years of family life, time spent together – bad and good times. We spent a lot of time together as family – moody morning breakfasts, hurried lunchtimes and long evenings that were often peaceful and sometimes filled with arguments. And in the era before television we spent our time by the fire talking. As little children, it was he who put us to bed saying as we walked up the stairs, “all together like Brown’s cows!”
He was gentle and silent and somewhat overlooked, still is overlooked in some ways because we have always paid more attention to our Mother. And he had his weaknesses that we came to know; I had my arguments and misunderstandings with him; we got over them again and again. And through it all there was an intimacy developing, a kind of knowing that cannot be spoken but is real and deep as the ocean. From the time I was thirteen years old I worked for the summer holidays in the factory where he worked. We fought in the mornings because I wouldn’t get up and would be late for work. In the evenings we walked happily home together, becoming companions and on Friday nights when I was old enough, he would take me to Jackon’s for a pint.
Today I honour the memory of my Father and all Fathers who have passed; the Fathers whose child has died and those whose child did not come to birth. We honour you Fathers of this parish in your greatness and in your frailty. We praise you and we thank you. Society now tends to demand perfection of us, demands that we make no mistakes but children don't think in those terms. They can be demanding in all sorts of ways but they cope well with our imperfections and our faults, so it's important that you listen to your child, listen when your child calls you Dad or Daddy or Dada. Listen to these sounds, the tone and let your child tell you who you are for her or for him, how precious and irreplaceable you are. Listen too in your heart to the voice of God who is the original Father, the One from whom all fatherhood flows and learn from Him what fatherhood means.