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It’s been almost a year without you…
The week before last Father’s Day, the cards and gifts in the shops were like a slap in the face. You were in hospital, thin as a rake and lost in a different world with your dementia.
I visited you that week. This was the very last time I spoke to you and heard you speak back.
I’m away on holiday this year for Father’s Day so haven’t had as many heart sinking moments in shops. There were the aftershave ‘gifts for Dad’ in the airport, but other than that I’ve avoided the barrage.
Knowing that I was going to write this letter has given me comfort. I can still think of you on Father’s Day. Although of course, I think of you every single day…
Thoughts of you are happier nowadays and I wanted to write to you with all the good things I remember.
Of course it still hurts like crazy. The worst thing is knowing you will never see me grow any older, you will never share any of the ups and downs, any of the new joys in my life.
You are forever frozen in time.
But I have a ton of lovely memories and I comfort myself knowing that no one can take those away from me.
Here are a few of the ones I remember.
Whenever I speed up to jog down a hill, I remember running down hills in the Lake District shouting ‘stop me’ as I hurtled towards you! Then you gathering me up and spinning me round, laughing.
I will always remember your famous sense of humour. Always playing around with words and seeing the funny side of things, you taught me not to take myself and life so seriously.
Your advice to me and hubby on our wedding day was to ‘never let the laughter die’. And you never did. Even in hospital, you were making everybody laugh.
You sometimes teased me and although sometimes that made me sulk, I can see why you did it now.
For example in the 1980s when I put on my yellow tube skirt and black and yellow top with my yellow shoes, thinking that I looked the height of fashion, you laughed and asked why I was dressed as a wasp! Needless to say I didn’t go out dressed like that! (Thankfully!)
I have happy memories of working with you on the caravan site where you were a Manager.
You got me a job in the Reception as well as in the shop, the bar and the restaurant. Several times I was asked by customers if I had a twin sister!
Sometime in the 1980s – not dressed as a wasp, but possibly sulking…
You always worked hard.
You drummed the same work ethic into me along with the importance of being reliable and not letting people down.
A child of the post-war era, you had a philosophy of make-do-and-mend. Never buying anything new, if you could stick something together with glue, nails or Sellotape you would!
When I was a small child you ran a garage where you did MOTs in the evening for people who were working. I’d often be in bed when you came home but I remember sometimes you would creep into my room and leave presents for me.
You loved music and were always whistling and singing tunes.
You taught me all the oldies. I know every word of Simon and Garfunkel and most Beatles songs. One of my happiest memories is singing along with you to Dire Straits whilst we were washing up in the kitchen after Sunday dinner.
I can’t eat ice cream without thinking of you. You loved ice cream. One of my best memories of more recent times was one of your last visits to us where we went out for a meal.
You ate the biggest calzone pizza I’d ever seen (although I don’t think you really knew what one was when you ordered it!)
Mum said ‘you’ll never eat all that’. Well, you did. You polished it off with a grin on your face and then ordered a mint chocolate chip ice cream and two spoons for you and me to share.
One thing I really miss is your dear face.
When I was looking through the photographs to go with this letter that’s what struck me. What made my heart hurt. Your face so familiar, but now gone forever.
In the main, I remember the good times, although those last few days and weeks sometimes come and haunt me. Sometimes the tears come suddenly. A song on the radio or seeing something which reminds me of you. They tell me that never stops.
It comforts me to remember that those last few days were only a very short period in your long and happy life.
I see you when I look in the mirror. I hear your voice giving me advice. Your influence is everywhere.
Mum says she senses your presence in the house. You always loved home, it was your favourite place to be. I like to believe the essence of you is still there, in the house that you loved.
We scattered you in the countryside nearby. You will forever be part of the great English Lake District. By the river, in the woods, on the fell, along the lanes you cycled everyday right to the end.
So happy Father’s Day wherever you are Dad. I know that you will always be with me.