The speech I didn’t make

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My eldest son turns 30 this week. I have no idea where most of those years vanished to, to be honest. I remember the day he was born. I remember him being at schools of different uniforms and his first girlfriend. I have a firm memory of him going to England to live. I remember when he came back home to live for a while and I have a crystal clear recollection of the day he came home with the diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

He and his beautiful partner decided that turning 30 was worthy of a drinks party at a pub. No argument from me. They organised it all, inviting friends from the various corners of their worlds, arriving from interstate and across town, from his office and playgrounds, from years ago and ages ago. They all mixed with family and way too much alcohol in a quirky pub in the inner west of Sydney.

I asked him if he was going to get up and say a few words, or if he would like me to speak but he was keen for no speeches. I think it may have been because a lot of his work-mates were there and he didn’t want to undo all of the work he had put in building his work persona. Or perhaps he just felt it would not be necessary. Just before I asked him if he expected me to say anything, I did a quick brain scan for some appropriate words, just in case he gave me one of his looks and said yeah, thanks Dad, that would be a great idea.

These were my thoughts.

How incredibly proud I am of his fight. How proud I am of the composure he shows. Because he has zero tolerance for dickheads, I could say with some assurance that there was not a single one in the room that night. I wanted to express my thanks to his work-mates who rallied around him when he got sick, many of whom gave up holidays to offer them in a pool, to allow my son to take the extra time off to repair his damaged body. And to assure them that it was an investment in a young man who would never let them down.

I wanted to acknowledge the new relationship that my son and I have. We spent his childhood in firm roles of parent and child, and how that relationship had matured, not always smoothly, into a firm and heart-felt friendship. To thank all of his friends from all the different and disparate corners of my son’s life for making the effort to come along and show him how special he is. A young man who often decries close personal ties but craves them nonetheless. In a fast paced world there is always an excuse to not come out, to not attend a drinks invitation, so their attendance was noted and I was grateful.

My son is a very special fella. Strong willed, very funny, quirky and determined, loving and caring with no soft spot for anyone contemptuous of his time or affection. What an interesting life he has ahead of him. Bless him, happy thirtieth.

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