Waking up to a misty winter morning, aware of my wife’s breathing and the sun gently stroking the window blinds. While the girls are still asleep, I sneak to the kitchen for my usual strong coffee day-breaker, knowing the dogs’ welcoming sounds. Even before the see me, their tails drum excitingly on the kitchen floor and against the cupboards – as if they have not seen me in weeks. Armed with a red coffee mug, I quietly step out on the deck. The early sunlight is partly hidden behind Stellenbosch mountain and embraced by a thick layer of mist. The trees close-by appears to stand guard against the moist air. Those further away have been surrounded by the grey and white cloudiness and surrendered to the loving damp.
Wandering around the house corner, I disturb a few black birds and they sound the alarm to their fellow worm-seekers. The shrill sounds and flying wings adds to the wonder of the morning and join the unseen feathered ones celebrating the start of a new day with different melodies. How the seasons have changed. Finding a dry spot on our half painted wooden bench (it really needs some loving care to soften time’s scars), I find the warm black liquid almost therapeutic. Daybreak’s display of colours and sounds treated my senses. Coupled with the sense of being blanketed by cloudiness, the caffeine brings my palate to life and the smells activities my awareness of being awake in this moment.
These are precious moments. Stillness. The quiet without is parallel to that within. I am with me. I am with the birdsong, the mist, the moist that drips lightly from the Johannesburg Gold’s leaves. I am embracing the warmth of the coffee mug, as it provides warmth to my body with every sip. I am alive. I am. I am connected in my solitude with my sleeping wife and daughters who are unaware of my thinking of them. I am because of them. I am aware of my, and their, limitations. I can’t always be the father I would want to be . Or whom they may want me to be. But I am blessed to be a father, ‘n pa. Even more to be their dad. In my own imperfect ways to love them and to be proud of them, even when I disappoint with an unnecessary harsh word or working yet another late night.
Maybe I am like this bench. Scarred by a few things what life has thrown my way, but also enriched by what I have encountered along the way. Whereas I wandered into the beauty of the morning today, the old bench lives through it every day. Sees, hears and feels the cycles of life in every moment, but also bears the scars of the wind, rain and heat. I am a tad jealous, as I just stumble into the beauty of this moment. Maybe the lesson is to be more aware. Not only to nature’s invitations to open my senses to the wonder of every moment. But also to be aware of my family’s beauty and wonderful abilities to love and to grow into the people they are meant to be. I am at times only a spectator to their journeys. But what a privilege to stand on the side-line and to openly or quietly cheer them on to embrace challenges. To deal with their uncertainties. To discover their talents. To see the beauty I witness in them. More importantly to recognise their own beauty. I am blessed to be a dad, to be their dad.