Four score plus two — score!
His father died at 59, just after he retired, so this ripe old age — full of health and friends — is an additional gift for him.
We’d hoped to spend today together, but he’s in Toronto.
As Dads go, he’s been an interesting one. He won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962 for a documentary he made about young British rebels.
A documentary film-maker, he was gone for weeks at a time when I was a teenager living with him. But he always brought home intriguing pieces of the world when he returned: Olympic badges in 1964 from Tokyo, elbow-length sealskin gloves from the Arctic and a thick caribou rug, an Afghan rifle case.
All of which ignited my own lust for global discovery and adventure, equally eager to find and tell great stories for a living.
He’s blessed with incredible energy; on our last trip around Ireland, in his 70s, he raced up the hills ahead of me, and set his usual blistering pace. On our cross-country trip when I was 15, knowing I am not a morning person, he’d pretend it was 7:00 a.m. and get me up an hour earlier. We attended pow-wows in Montana and North Dakota, finding a steak and a bag of sugar at our tent door, a gift for everyone attending — he would film and I would sketch.
We’d set up our little tent wherever looked good. One morning we awoke to find a farmer staring down at us from his tractor, as we’d picked one of his fields.
We’ve driven through rural Mexico, picked mussels in Galway Bay, skiied in Vermont, forged through rain across the Great Dismal Swamp, had a terrible shouting match at midnight in Antibes. We’re both driven, ambitious, stubborn, relentlessly curious. After the French fight, we didn’t even speak for years.
Both mad for antiques, we once stood outside two store-fronts in Wilmington, N.C. — one a diner, one an antiques store, torn between the boring need to eat and room full of possible treasures.
As always, he dresses with impeccable elegance: silk pocket square, gleaming lace-up shoes, navy blazer, ties and tattersall. His library, before he sold his house, ranged from archeology and theology to art history. He paints, sculpts, works in silver.
I wrote about him in my new book and was worried he’d be angry at the unexpected loss of privacy, but he was fine with it.
He likes the book a lot. Which, even at midlife, matters to me. Having lost too many years to anger and conflict, I now especially treasure whatever time we have to appreciate one another. It finally feels like he knows me.
For years, I could never find a boyfriend.
My late stepmother finally nailed it: “Your Dad is a hard act to follow.”
Happy birthday, Dad!