My dad died this week. I can’t be at his funeral in the UK, which is tough. I’ve written a few lines about him. Some memories to create a kind of sketch of who he was to me. (* in the image above he is on the back row, on the left)
My dad would have a go at fixing or making anything. He loved tinkering in the garage. He built fitted wardrobes for my bedroom, an irrigation system for his greenhouse, an annex to the garage to store our bikes. He took time off work to decorate the living room. When I arrived home from school I caught him using one of my crayons, carefully colouring in the white space between sheets of brown wallpaper that didn’t quite meet. He doubled up with laughter when he realised he’d been busted.
He’d sometimes take me to work with him. Travel buddies hitting the road in his truck. Delivering wines and spirits to off licences across Yorkshire.
I only heard him swear a few times. Watching the news report of an atrocity in Northern Ireland. ‘They’re bastards the IRA’ he said. The word bastards said under his breath. Barely audible. Didn’t want me to hear but he had to say it.
As a young man he was conscripted into the RAF and spent time in Egypt. I was fascinated by his mementos from this time, stored in an old fashioned trunk in the loft. He gave me the RAF badge from his beret.
He was a man of his generation. He struggled to express his emotions. His gift was always showing up. Always providing.
He was a decent man. Without malice. I witnessed none of the prejudices that were common among his generation.
He was easily contented. His needs were relatively small. His dog. His allotment. Caravan trips to the Yorkshire Dales. He wanted life to be quiet, simple. But things don’t always work out that way.
He endured tragedy. He lost his older sister and brother-in-law to a car crash, and very nearly lost me the same way. He lost his younger sister, much too young, to breast cancer.
He loved Morecambe and Wise. We all did. Essential family viewing in the 1970s. I remember lots of laughter around the TV. Between programs we’d play guess the advert – winner is first to name the product before it’s mentioned in the advert.
He took me on holidays on a boat on the Norfolk Broads. We ate Scampi and chips. He drank bitter, I drank orange juice.
He made an oversized cardboard sombrero for my costume as the comedy lead in a primary school performance of the song Y Viva Espana.
He had an impressive full head of hair til the end. Mine is long gone.
He cultivated in jokes in the family. I can’t tell you their origin. Do you know what it means if you have an itchy bum? It means you’ll be having rice pudding for dinner.
My dad was a kind man. A good man. I am grateful he was my dad. x