I’ll never forget the first time I ever saw you cry. I had just turned 18 and had recklessly made the decision to move hundreds of miles away to live with a man I had known for 48 hours. You threatened, begged and pleaded for me to stay but your pleas fell on deaf ears. After all, I was 18, an adult, I knew it all. Or so I thought.
I know I broke your heart that day, as you turned away from me at the coach, your face crumpled and wet with tears. But you let me go. You did what you always did and that was allow me to make my own mistakes. And though in some ways it was a mistake (wasting a year of my life with a loser who did not deserve to even breathe the same air as me) it was also a blessing because I delivered you your first grandchild. Your little mucker. The light of your life.
I remember how disappointed you were with me when you found out I was pregnant. You wanted me to have a different life to the one you and my mum did, not tied down with children from a young age. But as my pregnancy progressed, you became excited at becoming a Grandad and I can still see the pride glowing in your face as you held your beautiful grandson.
And a beautiful bond was created that day.
When I think back to the stress and grief I brought to you as a teenager, I can’t help feeling a knot of guilt deep down in my stomach. Teenagers are supposed to try your patience and drive you up the wall on occasion, but I think it’s fair to say I put you through hell at times. I recall how I often went out of my way to do or say or feel the exact opposite of what you told me to. And it isn’t because I didn’t love you or purposely wanted to disrespect you. I guess part of the reason is because we are so alike, our personalities clashed. We are both very straight talking and opinionated and have no problem speaking those opinions out loud. We’ve both been called blunt on numerous occasions because we often speak without thinking of who we might upset, even though that may not be our intention. However, despite hundreds of angry, fiery arguments (you rancid git!) we are both quick to defuse and once what we had to say was said, it was over and done with and we were quick to move on.
And that pattern has remained throughout our relationship as father and daughter, even now I’m an adult and parent myself.
But when I think back over my childhood (and adulthood!), it’s not the arguments and slapped legs that I remember, but the happy times, the sacrifices you made and the amazing kindness you have shown to us children. Scrimping and saving to take us on a surprise holiday when we thought we were spending the day at the park, butterscotch and barley sugar sweets and singing along to 60’s songs as we drove to Barry Island, going around the “highland”, Saturday nights spent playing Monopoly, putting your life in your hands to take me out on driving lessons, helping me to furnish and decorate my home, giving my son the best possible father figure he could ever wish for…
And now as you lie there, in your hospital bed, I want to tell you just how much you mean to me. You are my rock, my world, my big strong daddy. My hero…
I love you dad <3