When I was a youngster growing up in Fiji I would hope against hope that my Dad would spend time with me and my brothers. But it wasn't to be. I never had the opportunity to go out with my Dad, let alone enjoy his company all by myself or with my brothers. My Dad was busy with his Law Practice or with the affairs of state or a sporting event and had little time to spend with his family - which ultimately cost him his family.
As I grew older I vowed that, when I had children, things would be different. I would make it my business to really get to know my kids, spending time with them, finding out what they loved and wanted out of life. And I would help them get there even if it meant sacrificing a few of my own pleasures to do it.
When we had our first child in Fiji and he was a little older, I took him to the movies nearly every Saturday morning. It was our father and son's time together at either the Phoenix, Lilac or Raiwaqa Cinemas. I'd sit in a predominantly Mums and bubs audience listening to their little tonsils scream with delight as the 'baddies' got a hiding from the 'goodies'. I didn't mind the noise because whenever I looked over at my son sitting next to me, the expression on his face was worth all the natter and chatter of the kids going berserk. He was ecstatic that we were spending time together, eating ice cream and pop corn. That, for me, was priceless.
I'd also take him to soccer and rugby matches at Albert Park or the National Stadium. Or we'd go to watch his Mum and Aunt play soccer at either the Marist Brothers High or Suva Grammar School grounds.
Even now, his eyes light up when he remembers those special moments and memories. It makes me feel proud that I made the time to spend the time, because time is the most precious commodity we have yet it goes all too "FAST".
I did the same when our second son was born.
When we came to Australia, I took them to Musical concerts and to all the festive carnivals in Melbourne giving them a taste of what this great country had to offer. I remember one time when I was working at one of the first FM Radio stations in Australia, the famous Bon Jovi Band toured. As our Radio Station was a major sponsor of the Tour, I was lucky enough to get free tickets to the concert. One of the highlights was asking John Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora to autograph their album for our eldest son. He was ecstatic as they were his favourite band and the concert blew him away. He still has a copy of the autographed album which he treasures.
Our youngest son can remember some amazing moments too - like the time we went to see the legendary BB King live. It was such an awesome concert in one of the most iconic venues in Melbourne - Festival Hall - which is a semi-wooden, rustic hall where some of Australia's legendary bands have played. Our children were involved in Little Athletics and a variety of sport, including AFL Football.
It was a time of experiencing new adventures in our new home. And whenever it was opportune, we travelled as a family on vacations up and down the east coast of Australia so we could experience more of what this great continent has to offer.
Since we've been here for nearly 30 years our 'boys' have really settled in. Somehow though, regardless of their wonderful Aussie experiences, they've never forgotten their Fijian roots. They value the land and the country they were born in while still loving their new found friends and country.
As I watch and observe their journey through life, I'm quietly content that we made the right choice of coming to a strange new land. It's been an incredible journey, at times trying, but mostly rewarding in so many different and delightful ways.
I think back to the time my Great Grand parents sailed from India to Fiji in the late 1800s, not knowing where they were going and if they'd ever get here safely.
But they had a dream and a vision to better their lives and the lives of their off-spring. I'm indebted to their resilience for staying the course, braving the elements and hardships to give us the opportunities we have today. If they were alive to see what their off-spring have achieved in so many fields - as farmers, teachers, traders, trainers, preachers, policeman, lawyers, doctors, accountants, scientists, salesman, soldiers and every occupation in-between, it would simply blow them away.
We will never forget their sacrifice or the sacrifice of the many men and women who have given their lives in the many theatres of war so that we can have the freedoms and lifestyle we enjoy today.
Which is why I spend time, even today, with my grown-up sons who are in their 30s to remind them, to encourage them and to let them know how much they're loved because of the sacrifices of so many.
We call it, our Father and Sons Time or "FAST" for 'short'.
Because time goes so quickly, one day our "FAST" will be no more.
And hopefully, one day, our sons will continue the tradition with their children and be thrilled beyond anything words could ever express about a father's pride to see his children value the things that are more important than anything money could never buy.