When pressed at school with the question “Who is your hero” I was always confused who to write down.
Out of default I almost always chose Spider-Man. There was nothing about him that I really aspired to become, but he was my favourite super hero so it seemed like the best response. I always struggled to answer questions like “Why is he your hero?” and “what attributes do you admire?”
However, my true hero is and has always been my father.
The legacy of heroes is the memory of
a great name and the inheritance
of a great example….Benjamin Disraeli.
Why I Decided To Write This
My dad is not perfect, no one is. About 5 years ago my parents split up just before my wedding.
Needless to say I was a bit shattered, and the idea that my Dad was my hero was somewhat questioned.
About 3 months ago my wife reminded me of a letter I wrote my father around that time. I don’t remember writing the letter, and a vaguely remember delivering it (I think there was commando rolls involved) but I am pretty sure it said some not too nice things.
I do not remember a single word I wrote in that letter and I regret writing it. Some things are better left unsaid because the old adage that “Time heals all wounds” has proven very true for me.
My wife remembered that I had stated in that letter that I had told my Dad that he used to be my hero and now he wasn’t anymore.
Dad – This is my retraction of whatever I wrote. I hope to be half the father to my kids that you were to me and my sister. I hope you can continue to be a strong male figure to my children, who mean to world to me.
A relevant quote from the director of one of our favourite movies Water World (I know it was deemed a flop but we loved it).
Real heroes are men who fall and fail and are flawed,
but win out in the end because they’ve stayed true to
their ideals and beliefs and commitments….Kevin Costner.
When I First Realised My Dad Was Actually Spider Man
I first realized my hero wasn’t Spider-Man when I was about 17 and I was reading a book called “Wild At Heart”.
About half the book was dedicated to “The Father’s Wound”. This is the emotional hurt a boy/man has due to having an inadequate father.
I read the book mostly confused trying to find this wound. I then realized that I simply didn’t have one due to having a great dad.
To my dad
This is a tribute to my dad, who still remains my hero.
Thanks for everything.
Here are the 10 quotes you said that have defined my life and the stories behind them and why they are so powerful to me.
Just to clarify: Every single one of these 10 quotes also embodies the values my mother bestowed upon me. Mum – this is in no way intended to belittle all that you have done for me. This is part of a healing process and I know you will understand that.
A post about mum to come in the future.
1. “Why would I want to pay someone else to raise my kids?”
My dad moved from full time work to working one day per week when my sister was 6 months old. I wasn’t even conceived yet.
He wasn’t loving the corporate life and wanted to try something different. I honour my mum for supporting him in his decision because I know I have felt this way many times myself.
Being an “up and coming” journalist on the way to becoming a newspaper editor my Dad’s employer offered him a better role with a higher salary when he told them he was quitting full time work to be a stay at home Dad. My Dad refused it saying he wanted to stay home to raise his kids.
To this his employer said “With the money we will be paying you you could afford to pay someone else to take care of your kids”
And this is where the quote comes from. My dad replied with “Why would I want to pay someone else to raise my kids?” And with that he moved to one day per week.
This quote is important to me because it sums up my Dad’s philosophy to life.
I wanted this quote to be “The greatest thing you can ever do in life and the greatest achievement you will ever have is being a Dad. So work hard at it, have fun at it and most of all cherish it”.
My dad never said this but he lived it. I also embody this belief. There is nothing more important to me than being a great husband to my wife and a great father to my children.
A Story That Embodies This
One day I came home from school with a friend to discover a stained and semi-burnt parchment containing a clue. This was an all out treasure hunt.
Tea-stained paper with burned edges, rhyming poems which were clues leading to the secret location of the next clue.
We hunted around the house and the garden until finally we came upon the final clue. This clue led us to a garden bed where we had to dig for our buried treasure.
Buried under the dirt was 4 toys. One for me, one for my friend, one for my sister and one for her friend (who didn’t end up coming over that day).
My dad went to all this effort just because he loved us and wanted us to have a good time. That was the kind of Dad he was.
2. “You can be whatever you want to be”
In year 7 I wanted to be a builder.
In year 8 I decided builders don’t make a lot of money so I wanted to be an architect. I decided I was going to become fluent in Japanese as this would allow me to work with Japanese people (I thought this was important for an architect).
In year 11 I wanted to be an astronaut (still do). So in year 11 and again in year 12 my parents paid for me to go to “Space Camp”. If that sounds nerdy it’s because it was. But I loved it.
In year 12 I wanted to be a youth pastor, and I followed this up by attending 2 and a half years of bible college.
When I was 20 I decided I wanted to make a full time income online. My Dad supported me financially for about 6 months or more while I tried to make this a reality. I am still trying.
No matter what I said I wanted to be, how hard or difficult that dream was, my Dad was always encouraging and always supportive.
Rather than think up 12 reasons why I couldn’t do it, why it would be too hard, or why it was a silly dream my Dad was always encouraging and always supportive.
An astronaut? Why not?
A pastor? Honourable!
Make money online? Sounds cool.
Married at 20? A bit young, but if she’s the one go for it
So now when I have an idea, a dream or a vision my default response is “Why not?”
Now when my son points at the sky shouting “MOON!” (he does this a lot) I get to tell him “Branson, one day you will get to go to the moon, would you like that?”
3. “Sure you can quit the drums”
In year 4 I decided to join to school band by playing the drums. I started playing in the ‘practice band’ on the snare drum and eventually got a full drum kit.
I did lessons, I learned quickly and I loved playing the drums. What I absolutely HATED was playing in the school band.
It was horrible.
I was very new to the drums and the beats were too advanced for me and I couldn’t be bothered to practice enough to get the right. Whenever I made a mistake it was painfully obvious and everyone had to stop playing for me.
I avoided playing in band as much as possible.
In year 6 I decided that it was all too much and I wanted to quit the drums. The day came when we had to return the drum kit my parents had bought to get some money back for them.
My dad went out for a drive and I played like mad until he got home. Extremely upset that I was quitting.
I remember no condemnation from my father about the fact that he had spent (and lost) hundreds of dollars on the drum kit or that I should push through with it. That proved to be an important moment, though I am 99% positive my Dad has no idea.
Fast forward 10 years and I have just proposed to my girlfriend Kelly (who is now my wife). The emotional overwhelm of the weekend finally pushed me over the edge and I did what I had wanted to do for the last 6 months and I quit bible college.
I was hating life there and getting nothing out of it. While the majority of people (not my family…thanks guys) said “You only have 4 months to go, why not just stick it out” I remember my dad supporting my decision to quit.
Sometime quitting is bad, a lot of times quitting is good. There is no point sticking something out that is leading you no where. Better to quit and spend your time focusing on something you enjoy that will lead to a better life in the future.
4. “Look after the ewe lambs first”
Ahhh the ewe lambs. When I was young this quote frustrated me to hell.
Let me explain.
The ewe lambs was a term my father used for my mum and my sister.
“We always look after the ewe lambs first” was his strange way of teaching me chivalry.
I hated it when I was younger because it meant us boys would walk in the rain while the girls got the umbrella. Or why I would have to make my own way home from school so he could pick up my sister.
But over time it has proved extremely valuable.
“A man walks closest to the road, because if a car runs the curb you are more likely to get hit than the ewe lamb. Protecting her is your duty”
“A man goes out of his way to remove the ewe lambs from danger. If that means getting up at midnight to drive 2 hours to pick up your daughter and her friends and spend the next 3 hours driving every drunken friend home that is what you do.”
Now when I leave for work I find myself saying to my son (who is only 18 months old) “Now Branson, make sure you take care of the girls while Daddy’s at work”. When he can speak properly I will introduce him to ewe lamb terminology. Thus the legacy lives on.
5. “I’ll have the burnt chop”
A boy doesn’t have to go to war to be a hero;
he can say he doesn’t like pie when he sees
there isn’t enough to go around….Edgar Watson Howe.
The Edgar Watson Howe quote sums up the burnt chop perfectly. But here is the tale behind it.
Lamb chops and 3 veg was a common meal in our house. With chops being extremely expensive we never had enough for everyone to eat and be full.
Often when Dad was cooking the chops he would burn a couple by accident.
“I’ll have the burnt chop” he would always say. Leaving the good chops for me, my sister and my mum.
I don’t know how much charcoal he ate over the years but I could tell you it felt like every single time we had chops some of them were burnt, and every single time he took the burnt ones leaving the best for us.
I love the quote that a hero doesn’t have to be some brave fighter, he can simply put others first. My Dad always did that and I try to do that in my life too.
6. “Yes, of course I’m cooking eggs”
It’s 2am and you are just getting home from your night shift. You have put in a solid nights work and you are coming home ready to go to sleep.
You walk in to find the lights on and your son hanging out with his friends, or more commonly his girlfriend.
You are greeted with the phrase “Hey Dad, are you making eggs?” Which was our cue for the fact that we wanted him to cook us a late night snack of scrambled eggs.
His reply (almost always) “Yeh I am actually, how did you know?”
He would then proceed to cook everyone a late night snack and would eat some himself before going to bed and passing out for a solid 10 hours.
The moral of the story: Go out of your way for your kids always, no matter what the circumstances.
The same went for other situations such as
“Dad my car broke down can you come and get me?”
“Dad it’s raining can you pick me up from school?”
“Dad I’m poor (because I’m 22 and married with a kid…who does that?) can you spot me some money”
7. “Thanks for visiting (insert hand shake containing $50)”
When you get married at 20 and you and your wife both work part time (that’s what 20 year olds do) you find yourself pretty poor at times.
Add in a baby and you find yourself really poor at times.
The fact that you are married (with child) means a lot of people expect you to have your finances sorted. We certainly didn’t.
Most people I know in their early 20′s still live and home and work 2-3 days per week in a cafe. They don’t have money problems because they have no expenses.
I worked just as much as other people my age, but I had a lot more expenses.
Whenever we would go and see Dad, or whenever he came over he would often say goodbye and put out his hand to shake mine. Often this hand contained a $50 note.
Like we were doing a drug deal we would shake hands and the money would be exchanged. Nothing said, nothing needing to be said.
I appreciated his generosity, and he knew it. Sometimes you don’t need to say thank you for the person to know you are grateful and almost always you should give without expecting a thank you in return.
8. “Sure you can write your own speech”
Year 4 and as a young boy I am sent home with an assignment. Write and deliver a public speech.
I knew exactly what I was going to talk about. Recycling!
I believed in recycling so much I used to take cardboard boxes to school, collect the paper rubbish and take it home to recycle. So it was the perfect topic for me.
I remember the moment so clearly in my mind. Dad was in the kitchen and I was sitting at the table.
I had told him what I wanted to give my speech about and he was shooting off ideas about things I could talk about. He had so many ideas he was practically writing the speech for me.
When all of a sudden I stopped writing and I told my Dad that I actually wanted to write the speech myself.
I don’t know if he actually said “Sure, you can write your own speech” but that was exactly what he encouraged me to do. I went up to my bedroom and wrote the speech myself.
I finished in the top 3 in my class and I was then able to present my speech in front of the entire school. It was a proud moment for me.
I still remember my teacher coming up to me telling me that my Dad had told her about that situation and that she was proud of me also.
I am 100% sure that my Dad could have written a better speech than me, but sometimes it isn’t the end result that is the most important but the journey.
I am almost certain that that one moment and the speech that followed built in me a confidence in public speaking that very few people ever achieve.
Today I speak for a living, working as a sales rep and regularly delivering training speeches to large groups of people.
9. “Just take some money”
Another story about money. But I think the way people handle money shows a lot about their character.
My mum made most of the money in our house so I don’t know how much of what Dad gave us was actually what mum made but hey “What’s mine is yours right?”
So, my Dad had his own cupboard in the kitchen where he kept his things. His wallet, his medicine, his receipts and of course his money.
As kids we were trusted with this cupboard and the money hidden therein.
“Dad I am going out can I have some money?” was almost always met with
“Sure just take some money from the cupboard”.
It started out that we would just take money out of his wallet. Usually $50 notes or $20 notes. It didn’t take Dad long to realise he rarely got any change back.
So did he act as a gatekeeper? Rationing out money to us? No.
He went to the bank and got $100 worth of $5 notes and $100 worth of $10 notes to keep in his cupboard.
The idea was that we would simply take one note and thus we wouldn’t cost him as much money.
I’m sure sometimes it worked, but a lot of the time it was just a matter of taking multiple notes. Sorry Dad.
My Dad valued us way more than money but more importantly he trusted us with his money and allowed us to make the decision how much we would take.
Sometime I would bring back the change, sometimes I wouldn’t. But I appreciated the trust.
I think if you trust your kids and teach them to act responsibly you don’t need as many rules as you might think.
I wasn’t going to include this moment, but it stands as one of the defining moments of my life.
It is not every day you have to confront your father about something but I have had to do this.
No detail needs to be expressed here but the fact that you said “OK” and that you would go about trying to right your wrongs means the world to me.
In hindsight, it was this decision that retained my utmost respect for you.
It was also an important moment for me, to know what is right and stand up for it.
Mum - I hope reading this doesn’t make you cry too much and I hope it helps you also. You are as much a defining part of my life as Dad was and I thank you for that
Sara - Through thick and thin, I’ll always look out for you. I may be your little brother, and may have no idea what to do when you wake me up at 3am…but at least we have Vaughn…and now Mark.
Kelly - Thanks for encouraging me to write this (though indirectly) and supporting me in everything in life. I love you more than V.
Dad - I hope reading this has been as healing for you as it was for me writing it. Thank you for being the best Dad any son could EVER hope for and for raising me to be the man I am today.
Please, never stop fighting for time with us. You presence in my life and in the life of my kids is vital to us. When we have difficulty arranging times to see each other it is not out of any distain or past memories…it is because we live hectic lives. You must remember what it is like.
So just to set the record straight, in case I wasn’t completely clear, I feel honoured to call you my hero. Although I won’t always agree with everything you do (flinching in wang ball being a prime example) I don’t think that is what it means to be someone’s hero.
Overall you have been an exemplary role model for what a father is and should be as well as how a true man treats all people.
So 3,419 words later I have come to the end of this rant. I will leave you with this
How To Win Wang Ball In Just 3 Throws
The rules of wang ball are simple. Two players stand at opposite ends of the garden and take turns throwing a solid object (usually a ball) at each other.
The target must stand completely still, even upon impact.
1 point for a body hit, 2 points for a head hit and 3 point for a wang hit. Double points if the person flinches or moves out of the way. First to 11 wins
The world record stands as 3 throws for victory. Ryan (victor) vs Stuart (defeated)
Throw #1: Flinched head shot – 4 points
Throw #2: Flinched head shot – 4 points
Throw #3: Wang shot – 3 points
Total points: 11