Thursday, 9 February 2012

Au revoir dad.

Some people make a difference to our lives. I don’t mean by performing heroic deeds or by inventing new things. I mean that some people make the world a better place, by just being themselves. My dad did that. My dad made a difference.

Quite simply, I adored him.

He was a loving husband, a wonderful father and an irreplaceable grandfather. My children called him papa. Since that dreadful Sunday morning nearly three weeks ago, a chapter has closed in my life. But loss is made endurable by love. He was a dignified giant of a man with a gentle soul. He led by powerful example. He was a man of integrity who guided and shared in the lives of his children and grandchildren with love and an abundance of patience. His smile was amazing. His jokes…less so!

He laughed often. He greeted the ladies in the family by telling them that they were beautiful. He encouraged and asked after every member of the family. Despite his painful knees, he’d pretend to trip up just to raise a laugh. If you stumbled, he’d ask if you’d had a good trip. Dad would gaze at the skies whenever a plane passed overhead and he’d tell you which aircraft it was. He’d clap loudly whenever Arsenal or England scored a goal and loved to watch sport on television. He greeted us with bear hugs. Dad loved to read and spent hours working on jigsaws, patiently re-creating a landscape or aeroplanes from tiny pieces of cardboard. He laughed at Tommy Cooper, Morecombe and Wise and Tom and Jerry. He was a connoisseur in the art of charcoaled bread, frequently burning toast in the mornings. He adored sun-bathing and didn’t want to part with a particularly well-worn and very small pair of blue shorts, which mum tried to secretly dispose of on several occasions.

Dad had beautiful hand writing and a talent for drawing. I loved the way his lips would twitch as he tried not to grin when he told a joke. He said au revoir, not goodbye. I’d frequently hear dad telling mum that she was beautiful. I’ll always remember dad walking on Harlyn Bay, wrapped up against the elements in his hat, scarf and gloves. How he’d grown fond of our two dogs and would throw a stick for them along the water’s edge of the beach.

I’ll be comforted in the future by the memories I shared with dad, because he was a joy to be around.

I received an unexpected response from a friend last week when I told her my father had died. She said that she envied me because I’d had a dad whom I loved and who loved me in return. She said she’d never had that relationship with her father. It made me appreciate what I had with dad, not what I’ve lost.

I’ll miss him every minute, of every day, for the rest of my life.

Au revoir dad.