‘BYRON!!!!!’ are the words I hear, constantly being bellowed down the hall, like a grumpy old-aged dragon that’s got something stuck in his tooth at the back of his mouth. It’s a continuous stream of bellowing because the dragon always gets something stuck there, it is its nature, and it will keep bellowing until it has gotten that gristle out. So I sit in my room, comfy under the blankets, as the old dragon bellows down the hall, over and over. Until eventually, I realize, dragons are stubborn creatures, and it’s better to just see what he wants, or it’ll eventually breathe fire and really, no one wants that. It blackens the walls, burns the carpet, what a mess. And afterwards, it would even still complain, ‘Look what you made me do!’
Like most dragons, this one sticks to the common characteristics considered to be the norm of its species. It’s a hoarder by nature. Sitting upon its mountain of valued possessions, insisting upon the value of each and every item that he owns. And best not to touch or take anything, dragons are known to be touchy about their possessions after all, and well, they bite too, so there’s that. Fairly lazy, dragons are known to rarely venture out of their homes. If they do find a suitable home, dragons will only leave rarely to sustain themselves, but mostly rely on others to bring them food, and gifts because, after all, they are the king of the mountain.
You’re probably reading this dad saying, ‘Fuck you, lovely present this is,’ haha, but realize, you are also a dragon. And that word is relevant for both the good and the bad. You are fierce when angry, but you also stick to your convictions. You’re strong and regal, and when you soar, it is amazing to behold. So while I do pick and make fun of some of the things you do, there is no higher compliment than me comparing you to a dragon.
I know that this piece is a different kind of present to those before it, but every year we ask what you want for your birthday and every year, you shrug and say, ‘You don’t mind,’ or ‘Whatever it doesn’t matter.’ Every year you get presents you use or don’t and I think, you actually place value in presents that give you experiences. Things like a surprise visit from your daughter, or a flight to visit your family in Cape Town. So this year I want to give you a little fragment of some of the things we both know but never have a chance to express. A present that can be remembered, instead of used.
I love you, dad. I love you for the awkward hugs, the hard times and the things you have taught me along the way. I think the relationship we have is difficult to express and often times words aren’t really necessary. I think a lot of people say to you, ‘It’s okay to show affection,’ or things like, ‘Its okay to let people know they have done well.’ But I think the people who say that one of which used to be me, don’t know what to look for. I came to understand that you love your family and that you put them first no matter what. Your love for Carly and me is not truly represented in the hugs you give or the words you say, but rather in the actions, you do.
Your love is in the ability to take loans to pay for our schooling even when you can’t afford to. Your love is in the late night projects you helped me with in high school when I had left it too late. Your love is in the lifts you give without complaint. In the texts we get, asking if we are okay, not what we’re are doing, but rather to just let you know when we are safe and when we get home. Your love is there, people just need to know what to look for.
I wanted to tell you that as I’ve grown older, I have learned more things from you and can appreciate the things you can do even more so. I’ve seen you push people into uncomfortable situations that make them respect you in a new way, with your wry wit and contagious humor. I have learned to be fearless in the pursuit of the new because you have a memory for every conversation that you can express in a way that makes people neither envious nor boastful, but natural, which is rare. You make people want to experience new things not because of what you say, but because of how you say things.
I have learned that setting boundaries are important, and that letting people know where they stand, whether friend or stranger, is important so that you are not stepped over or taken advantage of. I have learned compassion from you because even though you have been let down by people, you still give everyone you meet a chance, and there’s strength in that. And even though you have been let down, I think you have not became too bitter about it, but even if it is just a little, luckily for you old people get off being bitter because, you know, age.
I have learned so many things from you Patrick Roy McLeod, and I have seen the pride in your eyes in the things myself and my sister have achieved, and from all these things, I can only express gratitude towards you.
Thank you, father. Thank you, dad. Thank you, dragon.
I love you.