I’ve written and tweeted about plenty of unimportant things that just feel good to whinge about. My bad experiences at the hairdressers, troubles with technology and horrible coffee shops have made for a hopefully funny read. I’ve even written about my irritation with an uneven blanket!
Of course, its always fun to over-dramatise the inconsequential - just because we can. As Australians, we are incredibly fortunate to live in a country that has an incredible standard of living. Sometimes, we take advantage of that.
My Dad came to Australia from Greece with his family when he was 8 – ‘fresh off the boat’ as the saying goes, for want for a better life. He called himself proud to be Australian then, and he is equally proud now.
But life wasn’t easy for young, Greek kids that didn’t speak a word of English back in the 1960s. My Dad and his brothers would regularly get into fistfights because of ‘Wog’ taunting and they barely spoke English so they had to work hard to integrate.
And my Dad’s family was poor. His family of ten (8 siblings and 2 parents) shared a 2-bedroom house and he had to do paper runs as a child to help put food on the table. They struggled to eat; they struggled to be clothed. But they were still happy to be in Australia.
If I look at my Dad’s brothers and sisters now, I feel proud. They didn’t take for granted their chance at a better life. They worked hard and built businesses on their own. And they have raised good kids themselves.
But more about my Dad.
They say it’s hard to understand the plight of a parent until you are one. The overwhelming desire to give your kids everything. My Dad started with literally nothing, but had that burning fire in his belly to be something. I’ve seen him overcome mammoth business hurdles and watched as he defiantly tried to pick himself up.
As a child, I never wanted for anything. There was always food on the table and my Dad rarely said ‘no’ when I asked for a ‘mood ring’ or something that made me fashionable in the early 1990s. Now, as a Mum with a family budget myself, I asked him how he kept us feeling so … privileged – when in reality, he was suffering financially.
“I made do”, he said. “I never wanted you to feel like we were struggling.”
My Dad is in the wine trade – and for those that know the industry, it’s a pretty tough gig. In a market that is oversaturated with mass-produced wine, my Dad found it tough at first to build a business around boutique producers – an area he was most passionate about.
All my sister and I knew growing up was that Dad sold wine. He wore suits; he drove a company car; and I reckon he was one of the first people in Australia to get a mobile phone – which probably was the same size and weight as one of the red bricks of our humble childhood home.
And as his suits got smarter and his car got nicer, like all kids hope growing up, my sister and I thought we were finally rich! Dad would have a skip in his step and would talk about all the great things that were happening in his business.
Until another hurdle would get in the way. That was just Dad’s luck.
While at university, I started to work for Dad’s business as a sales rep. It was at this time I actually fell in love with wine (and not just the effect it had) and also realised just how hard my Dad worked. And just how much he’d achieved in a really competitive industry.
My Dad is now the proud owner of various wine labels, with Stonefish Wines being the first he ever created. I remember the exact moment when he was brainstorming names, slogans and logos, with the result being a rough drawing on a napkin – taped on a wine bottle. That’s exactly how Stonefish was born.
To this day it’s our Flagship brand and my Dad’s metaphorical third child.
My Dad came to Australia as a small Greek boy, but is now a grown Australian man. He now drives a nice car that he worked exceptionally hard for. He has spent years building brands that he believes in - that he sells with confidence. He doesn’t cut corners and he insists on quality production. He stands by his brands and he is finally now reaping the rewards of building a business through integrity and sheer hard work.
This post may sound like I am selling you my Dad. And maybe to a degree, I am. Because now, as a privileged 31-year-old with #FirstWorldProblems, I look at my Dad – and others like him – with pure admiration.
Thank you for being an incredible role model, Dad.
Note: It wouldn’t be fair to end this blog without mentioning my Mum – who I equally admire for raising us to be strong, confident individuals. She cared for us when we were sick, took us to dancing, tutors, Greek school (torture) and cleaned up after us constantly! My sister and I were incredibly fortunate to be raised in such a loving family - by such terrific parents.