When I was a kid, and Father’s Day or his birthday rolled around, I would buy my Dad a tie.   Or a wallet.  I wasn’t very creative back then.  At Christmas, people would get something from the craft-fair at school.  Nothing with glue or dried macaroni on it, because I thought that was a waste of food.  But if my Grandparents needed a magnet or a bookmark with a purple tassel on it, they knew I would hook them up at Christmas.

The big decision for my Dad was whether the tie would have stripes or zigzags on it.  Or how many photo slots would be in the wallet.  Would this year’s shirt have one of those little green alligators on it?  Who knew?  Ask Grandma.

My father doesn’t like surprises.  Back then he would use sneaky tactics such as the Alphabet Game to find out what I saved up my allowance to buy him.

‘Does it begin with a T?’

I looked at him sideways.  Because I could.  ‘Yes.’

‘Is it tiger?’

‘Yes, Daddy.  I broke into the Zoo and got you a tiger.  Because six year-olds can do that.  Real guesses, please.’

‘Is it a tie?’

‘Yes!  How did you know?  Oh, no.  Now you know.  I’ll have to switch it for a wallet.’

This happened every year.  One year, I was particularly devastated.  I had kept THE SECRET for two whole days.

Since he knew about the tie, I also got him a heart sticker.  Which he put on the dashboard of his Blazer.  I have never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl, but I loved that heart.

These days, I ask for a list of books he wants to read.  One year I found him a not-so-tiny model car.  And the year I surprised him with The Sopranos box set, Sarge and I watched it first.

I’ve always known it’s not about the stuff.  I like gifts people will appreciate.

For the past few weeks I’ve been going to spend Tuesdays with Dad.  Watching old movies or tennis after his radiation.  I’ve always loved hanging out with my Dad.  I appreciated him before he got cancer, and I still do.  I cherish all my time with him.  But I wish we didn’t have to share this time with 24 different medications.  And even though this stuff will make him better in the long run, I wish he didn’t have to take it in the first place.

The only thing I want to give Dad for his birthday in a few weeks is, ‘Dad, you are cancer-free.’  That and a six-month supply of his favourite rice pudding, as it’s the only thing he can eat right now.

That’s it.  And it’s not a tie.

Well, there is one more thing I’d like to give him.  I figure Sarge and I can work on that next year.

Proof that Dad and I have kept up the sappy-but-still-true magnet tradition.

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