Earlier this year, while I was discussing with a friend the intricacies of my relationships with various family members, I was struck with a realisation: I am finally enjoying the relationship with my father that I have always longed for.

Lauren and Victor Bissett, June 2014
It's been a pleasure to spend the last three days with my dad!

While I was growing up, I lived away from home for most of the year. My dad rarely wrote letters to me at boarding school, and so each brief scribbled correspondence I did receive was treasured — stored flat between the pages of my hardback NIV Study Bible.

During vacation times, my dad kept working long hours. I craved time with him alone and would accompany him on outings around Abidjan — often boring, seemingly interminable meetings that I rarely understood, but they meant I could spend time with my dad. He taught me how to use taxis and where to buy out-of-date food-stuffs. He built relationships with vendors, and I learned how to banter and bargain in Ivoirien French.

My parents rewarded my sisters and me for achieving good grades in our schoolwork. Every time I came home with a report card of straight As, my dad would take me out for a restaurant meal. The fancy meal was special, but time alone with him was even better. I worked hard each term to earn this special outing, and when I missed the mark with B+, I was privately devastated.

When my dad bought his first computer — an green-screened Amstrad — in 1985, he devoted himself to understanding the technology. He invested time into programming games for us to play — typing out all the code from articles in magazines — but he wasn’t often available to give me dedicated attention. As a teenager, I deliberately pursued computer studies so I could gain extra time in my father’s company. I learned desktop publishing at his side and later used those skills to gain employment when I returned to Australia. I devoured computer magazines so I could discuss new developments in technology with my dad and remember how excited we were at the theory of a gigabyte of hard-disk space!

So all my childhood, I longed for an authentic relationship with the man who was most important to me. My father always seemed to be working on important tasks, however, and I felt that I didn’t receive enough of his time or attention.

Two years ago, when David was incarcerated, my dad joined us and supported me in tangible ways — simply fitting with our lives instead of trying to change us. He respected the decisions that I was making and gave advice only when I asked for it. His own past experiences with difficult family relationships has given him wisdom and a tolerance which he used when gently counselling me.

Today, we remain close. I hear from my father often. We exchange emails and texts and speak on the phone when there’s something more complicated to discuss. He supports me in tangible ways and is respectful of the differences in my children’s personalities — for instance, carefully selecting vegan options for Brioni so she can enjoy treats while we’re visiting his home.

This year, my dad turns seventy. He’s still working full-time within an Australian government department, modelling a quality of life that that I hope to be pursuing at that age.

It’s only taken thirty-six years, but I am fully satisfied and thankful with the depth of our relationship and the way we truly love each other — and demonstrate it. For so many years, I longed for a certain father-daughter relationship that is now a reality, and I’m grateful to have him in my life. Happy Father’s Day!