He was more than just my father... he was my bestfriend, my hero

Today is my fathers birthday. Well, it would have been his 80th birthday. My father passed away unexpectedly seven and a half years ago from a cardiac arrest due to severe pancreatitis, which went untreated and undiagnosed for four years before his death. He wasn’t a drinker or a smoker, and ate everything organically from his garden that he tool pride and joy in, every single day.

I believe in celebrating my fathers birthday even though now he’s my guardian angel up in heaven. Its just a reminder and celebration of his life, of the most amazing man I have ever known, the first man I fell in love with.

We had our ups and downs, as most parents and children do but a-lot more so in the last few years before he became sick but I was incredibly blessed that whilst my father ‘lived’ at the hospital for three months, all was forgiven and my father & I became that inseparable soulmates as we always had been. My father was a very stern, super strict disciplinarian and incredibly a very traditional old school person.

My father was born in 1937 in Abadim, Portugal and at just five years old, his mother had to give him and his sister up, due to the severe poverty in the 1930’s  as she was not able to feed them and so they were shipped off, separately, to live with other family members.

My father from the age of five until 12 years old was a sheppard. Looked after goats and sheep and slept with the animals, by their side in the barns. By the time he was 13 or fourteen he left the family he was living with and moved down to Lisbon and became a plasterer.

In his early to mid twenties, he moved to Paris and lived there for seven years. He would return back to Portugal to ‘catch up’ with my mum (they had a long distance relationship) and in his thirties, he was given the opportunity to move to Australia. My father was a true vagabond, as his mother used to call him as he just loved to travel, My father believed that a person learnt so much more about life and survival from travelling, and to be given the opportunity to travel to lands he never imagined in his wildest dreams of ever going to, he grabbed at that chance.

8th December 1973, the day that my mother and I arrived in Australia. And as always, my father who loved fashion, always dressed up for any occassion.

He lived in a house organised by the Australian Immigation Department at the time, with a few other men from other countries around the world and worked for the Ford Motor Company in Geelong.

Two years later, he returned back to Portugal to marry my mother, left her to come back to Australia as Ford only allowed him two weeks off and set about arranging a house.

Nine months later I was born and then a further nine months, my mother and I moved to Australia.

Many would say that my father and I are completely like each other: brilliantly stubborn (a famous Lopes trait), opinionated, argumentative, passionate, skinny bony feet and incredibly helpful to everyone.

As a child growing up and still into my 30’s, I always loved listening to my father talk to me about the portuguese history from kings & queens, to politics, to literature, to music.

Ever Sunday we would go out for father and daughter times, and venture out to hardware and technology stores. I would watch and help him, fixing things around the house and try to mimic him and I guess in some way, that has turned me into the ‘handyman’ at my own home. What many don’t know is, is that my father was a true fashionista since his teens and always loved fashion too. He used to sit on the couch with me and together we would watch fashion shows on the television. He always encouraged me to never copy other people styles and repeatedly always said to me: ‘never be a follower, be a creator’.

To make a long story, short –  my father was, and will forever be my hero. He never went to school and he self-taught himself practically on everything, as he never liked asking people for help and took enjoyment doing things on his own, and succeeding.

He learnt how to speak eight languages, he was money savvy and always encouraged me to work hard, strive for greatness, stand up for myself and never allow a man or anyone else try to belittle me or control me, and to always rely on myself.

So because of my father, I became a strong independent woman.

MY FATHER

DADDY's LITTLE GIRL, FOREVER.

MY HERO

Happy birthday, daddy! I love and miss you terribly. Forever, your little girl xoxo