Today is my Dad’s Name Day – Saint Helen being the mother of St Constantine the Great. He’s no longer physically here, but his DNA runs through me and I feel his presence always within. The last two years were tough without him, but there were so many happy times and memories built over the years, that they carry one through the down days.
A father’s influence on his daughter’s life shapes her self-esteem, self-image, confidence and opinions of men. I find that his impact has been greater than ever in these last years. I’ve had some major changes and challenges to face, and by questioning what he would have done in my shoes, the answers came quickly.
From a young age, I remember how proud I felt when he took me to some weekend rehearsals and the magic of the Italian coffee shop and frulato which was delivered on the conveyor belt around the shop. It was there that I learned the importance of honesty – of paying, not taking food which was not on our order, and of being ethical.
I was really not a good student, but he always supported me. When the teachers called him to complain, his reply was “Be patient, and let her try again.” Having generosity and empathy towards others is a trait I so admired in him. And yet, he was always strong. A real man, who stood up for what was right, moral, ethical and above all, fair. He had the ability to walk away, retaining dignity and yet not burn any bridges.
As with all families, we had our ups and downs – and it was a Mediterranean household after all. But, I could never play one parent up against the other – he and my mother were always a team. That feeling of teamwork is something I still yearn for…
Some of my most indelibly linked memories are of sharing the stage together in our orchestral lives. From the first time with conductor Mendi Rhodan and the Haydn “Toy Symphony” where I was the cuckoo (don’t laugh) to the concerts with Pavarotti and the three Tenors and so many more.
Gardening was another love we shared and something which has continued to be an outlet for my creative side. We pruned, turned the soil, cut edges and lawns and planted many trees, shrubs, and bushes together, which continue to grow. A generous spirit, he taught me the importance of germinating cuttings and giving them to friends and neighbors and of always having a lemon tree (Myers) and a Papa Meilland rose bush. I have both!
My deepest regret is that he has not been here to enjoy his grand-daughter, but he lives on through the stories and photos.
Dad, Xronia Polla – We miss you.