When you left so suddenly 23 years ago, it was not unexpected. After all, you had lived each day as it it were your last, ever since Mum died 3 years before.
You tempted fate, doing everything you were not supposed to do, and against your doctor’s advice. “What do the doctors know?” you argued.
Oddly when we made that long journey from South Africa to Bournemouth, where you were supposed to be organising another cruise, I somehow expected to see your cheery smile at the airport
Oh Dad, that awful woman you met on your last world voyage! You didn’t want to leave the ship did you? You cried because it was the only place you could fill the void that Mum had left.
We know that you only ever loved Mum, and we didn’t blame you wanting a companion. When you travelled to Bournemouth, the truth is, you wanted the woman’s car, didn’t you?
The antique Bentley she dangled before you like a carrot on a stick. When she changed her mind and sold it to someone else, you had already made plans to return home; then your massive heart attack took place.
And I know you would have enjoyed your funeral; in fact, I could swear I heard you laughing when that strange Vicar with those enormous feet, jumped into his sports car to go vrooming out of the garden of remembrance:
He had a wedding to get to, and traffic was heavy that humid Saturday morningI’m certain you are together with Mum now, as you were in your shared life of nearly 50 years.
We know how proud you were of your 9 grandchildren; they hold you in high esteem, and with great affection. Do you know what you started by having 3 daughters Dad?
You have 30 great-grandchildren, and there are already 4 great great grandchildren. Imagine having that lot round for tea?
You are still a legend, with all your practical jokes, remembered in detail, and when we have a family get-together, we reminisce on our times with you.
On fishing trips, you snoring so loud that everyone had to sleep in their cars and leave you in the tent; Or the time that you curled up in the dog’s basket, your hat askew, and your white bowling trousers creased, and the dog curled into your lap.
You’d had one over the eight at the Bowls club, not an unusual occurrence. Mum would just sigh and raise her eyebrows.
What about the time you hooked your first trout, striking it so hard, it got entangled in the tree branches above you, and I had to shin up and retrieve the catch?
Or the time, when you forgot your landing net, and whipped off your hat to gather the fish in the bag, you replaced the hat on your head. I can still see the streams of water running down your smiling face.
Now that Harry and I are so far away from half of our family, the revisited memories of you and Mum and the wonderful holidays we spent together seem a daily occurence.
Life with you was always fun. Your favourite song ” Frank Sinatra’s My Way” was played day after day when you returned from your cruise, and it still brings tears to my eyes. It was Mum’s favourite too.
I remember a time when I was 6 years old, when we hadn’t seen either of our parents for so long, to see you smart and handsome in your army uniform, at the door of our foster Aunt in Wales.
I remember the sweet sadness as we waved to you on your way back to Cardiff, and the feel of the half-crown clutched in my hand.
We still have the letters your wrote throughout the 2nd World War.
And if you hadn’t taken us from cold wet England to sunny Rhodesia Dad, I would never have met my Harry, and he would never have had you as a fishing pal, and we would not have had all these great children and wonderful grandchildren.
So there you are Dad, you did us proud, and we thank you.
(Image of Henry (Harry) in the dog’s basket after one too many at the Bowls Club)
©2021|Author| Doreen Stewart – 2006 ( Now aged 87 years old)