Thank You, Dad

On Monday March 15 my father passed away. Just a few days earlier I had told him there'd always be a piece of him in everything I do. This is why...

My father was a man with many loves and passions. His wife of 38 years. His children. His grandchildren. His brothers and sisters. His other relatives and friends.

This passion extended to other areas too. And one in particular had a most profound effect on me.

To say Dad had an interest in computers is to commit an act of serious understatement. His study was full of computer hardware, computer disks and computer manuals. The downstairs room was a jumble sale of old monitors, ancient motherboards and other relics of silicon.

When he wasn't cooking dinner or playing with us kids, when he wasn't pottering around in the yard or just having a lie down, Dad was busy installing some new operating system or assembling some new machine from a multitude of spare parts.

I didn't need to understand what he was doing or why he was doing it. He took immense pride in his knowledge. It was enough for me to appreciate how much he enjoyed his hobby.

But even at an early age, I couldn't help but find it fascinating.

At the same time, Dad was generous enough to encourage my curiosity and, over the years, gradually foster a hobby that would eventually become my own passion.

In the early 80s, Dad would take me into his office when he had to work on the weekend. He'd seat me at the computer terminal next to him. To my child eyes I wasn't staring at a monitor but a luminous green window that looked out into other worlds. I'd peer through with wonder, my imagination fired by adventures involving caves, dragons and magic riddles.

It was my first real contact with computer games.

Back at home, Dad and I had a continuous rivalry with the Game & Watch, those simple handheld electronic games where you had to catch people jumping from a plane or building. You would walk past our bathroom on a Sunday afternoon and hear "BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!" coming from inside. Eventually, Dad would emerge and show me the new high score he'd just set. I'd grab the game and race into my bedroom. I wouldn't leave until I'd knocked him off the top. Later, if you walked past the bathroom, you'd hear that "BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!" all over again as Dad renewed his efforts.

Dad didn't just encourage my interest in electronic games though. Dad and I invented board games based on cricket, on football and on Formula 1 motor racing. We even played Dungeons & Dragons together. But as we raced each other around the circuits of Mario Kart, Dad knew that computer and video games were my real passion.

He showed me his computer magazines that carried reviews of the latest games. He then found me entire publications dedicated to games. I devoured them and hassled him to find me new ones. By the time I was 18 I was writing my own reviews, and with his encouragement submitted a few samples to one such magazine.

18 years later I'm still working in that field. I'm still getting paid to write about my passion...

A passion that I wouldn't have if it wasn't for my Dad...

If he hadn't shared his passions with me...

If he hadn't been there to encourage me every step of the way...

And if there hadn't always been a piece of him in everything I do.

Last week after the funeral I returned to the family home. I went into Dad's study to browse and reflect on those experiences we'd shared. On the shelf was his collection of PC games, including all the Civilization games still in their original packaging. For some reason I opened the Civilization II box - his favourite.

Inside I found a piece of paper with handwritten notes outlining how the technology tree progressed. As I read down the list I realised that the notes had begun in my own writing and then about halfway down had flowed into my Dad's as he filled out the remaining details.

That Civ II box - and the handwritten notes within - now sits on my games shelf. Dad won't have the chance to have "one more turn", but I think he'd want me to have it for him.

I want to say thank you, Dad, for everything you gave me. I'm going to miss you. But there'll always be a piece of you in everything I do.


Comments

    My condolences - glad to hear he'll live on through your work though :)

    My condolences, Dave. But your Dad sounded like a top bloke. Certainly a lot more of a gamer than my Dad is!

    This little tidbit just reminded me:

    "By the time I was 18 I was writing my own reviews, and with his encouragement submitted a few samples to one such magazine."

    I remember when you used to write for Hyper. I think Dan Toose may have been the editor at the time? It's a pity Hyper Magazine kinda went downhill, but you were one of the few contributors that didn't appear to have bias in some form (at least, not an immediately obvious bias :P)

    sorry about your dad, and very well written piece, i'm sure he'd be proud.

    That's wonderful, David. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss, but I am happy to know that you appreciate what you can't ever lose.

    David,

    I was very sorry to hear about your loss and also very moved by this piece.

    My condolences to you and your family. I'm sure this is a very difficult time as you mourn your loss.

    I hope to see you in happier circumstances soon.

    Jason

    Condolences on your loss... it helps explain why almost everything was being posted by Junglist for the past few weeks.

    Sounds like your dad guided you into your passion and your job - I haven't had that to the same extent. Sometimes, I wish I had... it must be a rare and wonderful thing.

    The story of the tech tree says it all.

    It's not often I get misty-eyed reading something on the web, but I'm fighting back the tears now.

    Deepest sympathies mate. Didn't grow up with my dad, but my older brother and i were into games from a very early age. Starting from having to write pages of programming text into our Texas instruments computer just hoping the game would work. Then the Apple IIc, Amiga 600 (this computer started my love affair with Civilization.) My brother died in 1994 when i was 18. And to this day with each generation of games and consoles i always think of him and how he would have loved how the videogame industry has changed and all the great games available now from the days of us playing doubles on Pac-man at the Warrnambool Ten-pin bowling alley. All the best David.

    That's a moving piece of writing.

    Sympathy and best wishes, David, and thank you for sharing this story with us all.

    I kind of had a feeling your absence was something along these lines..

    I am sorry to hear about your loss, and i'm always at a failure for words in these situations. It's hard to know what to say.

    Its hard to read this and not think of my own dad. Like your father, mine has fostered me into the person i am today. My mum of course contributed her part, but my dad always kept the fire roaring inside of me. Dad would always sit with my sister and i, playing games on our ld commodore, or atari, or master system.

    More so after his accident. You see, my own father loved doing as much as he could with us. Whether it be outside playing football or cricket, or inside playing games. My dad, at the time, worked in a paper factory. One day there was an accident involving a forklift and a role of paper, and my dad was left with a broken spine. It didn't paralize him, he still can walk, but he lives a life of constant pain. He can go frpm being "just a little tender" to agonizing back spasms and hospital stays.

    Just a couple of months ago i saw an older video of him at one of my birthday parties and he was rolling around on the floor with my friends and i. I had to hold back the tears. It was the hardest thing i have ever watched.

    I know dad, to this day, still wants to do the active things other dads to, but simply can't. So instead we have played games. Board games and computer games and console games. Dad fueled all my hobbies, whether it be gaming or my old obsession with star wars.

    Where i'm going with this is that my dad, like yours, is a major contributor to me... and i honestly can't think of a life without him.. even as i write this i can feel tears welling in my eyes... which is probably not good as i should be working.. heh..

    I am truly saddened for you and wish you all the best in this truly difficult time.

    At least, as it has been said to me before quite wisely, life can take those closest to us, but it can't take the memories they leave behind.

    Take care mate, and welcome back.

    A touching tribute to a man who has vicariously influenced many, many more people than he probably knew through your own work, David.

    Sorry to hear about your loss David. Great article on him, what a top guy.

    My condolences to you and the rest of your family.

    He seems like a wonderful man and father. I think it's great you were able to give so much to each other =)

    An immensely moving and lovingly written piece, David. My deepest condolences. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    My condolences to you and your family, David.

    I think it's safe to say we all owe you dad a debt of gratitude for instilling the passion in you.

    May you always remember the happy times he obviously enjoyed spending with you and I'm sure he'd be proud of how his son turned out.

    My condolences to you and your family David. Sounds like the world lost a great man that day.

    I think he would have been proud of what you've written here and in your previous work.

    All the best mate

    My condolences to you and your family David.

    As many have said, take care and welcome back.

    Sorry to hear David, I know how you are feeling. I lost a friend on the 23rd of March. He was only 26 and an editor of a mountain biking magazine.

    RIP Mr Wildgoose + James Williamson

    A very moving piece David, so close to tears right now and I hope you get through this period of your life all the more stronger. Sounds like your dad had always believed in your passion, perhaps even envisioning you as his successor. You both also sound like the best buddies in everything. Hard not to feel moved by the passing of someone who has so clearly influenced you to be the great man (and journalist) that you are today.

    Best wishes for you and your family. Grief is always hard but when you come out at the end it will only make you stronger.

    Wow, I'm now sitting here not knowing what to say. I am truely saddened by your loss David, he sounds like a truely top bloke and a great father. Fathers like that are hard to come by these days, I am always depressed when I think of my father, I've gone 20 odd years without him now. I do have a step-dad and he's great and all, but there is a big hole where my dad should be.
    I can picture you two in that study, with 5.25" floppys buzzing away, trying to get past bad sectors. I would have loved a father like that to share my passion. You are truely lucky to have had that connection, its something that you can remember when your feeling down and relive those rare father son moments in life.

    My deepest condolences Dave :(

    Sorry to hear that. He sounded like a great father. :)

    my condolences dave, very moving piece of writing.

    Nice work in articulating something that must have hurt a great deal. And thanks for putting all that you do into your writing - I'm another oldie who remembers the times when Hyper was just a little more independant and alot more fun.

    My condolences Dave,

    I wish I was as close to my dad as you obviously were. He sounded like an amazing man and bonds like you two had are hard to come by. Stay strong mate and remember that he'll always be with you no matter what you do.

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