Wednesday, 20 October 2010
I just wanted to say thanks for being you.
After 44 years as your daughter I have only two regrets. The first is that I didn’t hug you last Sunday as we waited for mum to find a wheelchair at the hospital. You were sat in the back of the car, clearly unwell, yet I didn’t hug you. There was a good reason at the time although it doesn’t seem such a good one now. We were never a huggy feely family. I worried that if I hugged you it would be noticeably out of character and I worried that you would sense what we were all feeling. I’m sorry.
But not being huggy feely doesn’t mean we weren’t close. We were. We talked a lot. The times I remember most were the times you cycled by my side as I ran. We would talk about everything from poetry to the state of the economy and your weird dreams. “I couldn’t tell this to our John,” you’d say “because he would get embarrassed!”
The other regret is that I didn’t tell you about my first day at Edge Hill. We were asked to remember great teachers we’d had. Other students talked of Mrs This and Mr That but my hand shot up and I said “my parents.” More than any other teacher you and mum have made me what I am today and I thank you. My own children may not thank you for that right now. But then that is one of the things you taught me – that you will never fully appreciate your parents until you have children of your own.
Amongst other things.
I remember you teaching me to read before I started school; something that has always given me a head start.
You taught me how to play tennis, how to be a better runner and how to change a bike tyre.
And you taught me that it is OK to make mistakes too. That a five minute job will take five times that……. or even longer to put right. I learned that you can’t revive a dead budgie by putting it in the oven and however hard you try, you can’t turn crocus bulbs into pecan nuts. Still, the important lesson there is that however impossible the aims it is important to keep trying.
But the big lessons you taught me weren’t about academic studies or practical pursuits they were about the most important things in life. They were lessons in love
You taught me that you can love your children with all your heart but it’s still OK to run out of patience especially with teenage daughters and that the greatest gift you can give your child is the knowledge that they have been loved unconditionally every single second of their life.
You have taught me that a happy and successful marriage is not always a perfect one. That you can love someone with all your heart but still argue, that you can drive each other crazy and even force your saintly partner into swearing at you and calling you a “pisspot.” And you definitely deserved that one dad
And you taught me that the best is still to come, that being a grandparent is when the fun begins, then you can dress up as Noddy and peg yourself by the hat on a washing line and play cricket for hours without worrying about work, that you can sing and dance and make your grandchildren laugh because that is the most important thing in the world.
What I’m trying to say dad is that you may no longer be here in body but you will always be here in spirit because you are part of everyone whose life you touched. And you are still teaching me now although I can’t say it any better than the poet Phillip Larkin who wrote:
“What will survive of us is love.”