Its’ funny how for years you check out the latest cards for Father’s Day, looking for THE one; the one that says all you want to say and sometimes never do, the one that you know instantly will make him laugh and then suddenly out of the blue there is no longer any need for Father’s Day cards. My father died 23 years ago and, though time is a great healer I still miss him just as much today.
I miss his laugh, the freckles on his arms and fingers, his voice when he sang old songs from the movies, his belief that you made your own way in the world without help or favour, his strong work ethic and the fact that no-one owed him a living. He didn’t suffer fools and could be impatient if he thought someone was wasting his time, but he was incredibly kind to those less fortunate than he and very generous to his friends and family. He had a great sense of humour and sometimes when repeating an especially funny joke would start laughing at the punchline before he got to it, so we would all end up laughing at him and missing the joke completely.
I remember walking with him to a cinema when I was very young to see John Wayne in “The Alamo” – I didn’t understand much of what was happening, but got the message that John Wayne was the one as far as my father was concerned!
He set up his own business and I watched him at work first hand as I joined the company when I left college. I started at the bottom, making tea and running to the shop for sandwiches and cakes for break times. I worked alongside his secretary, a woman whose idea of filling in what spare time I had on a Friday afternoon, was translating Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from Pitmans shorthand! But I learned a lot from her and others, as he had intended I should.
He taught me to drive and never had any doubts that I would pass first time and was enormously proud when I did. He drove fast, as I tend to do and often on long journeys on my own I sense that he is there, driving the long miles with me. He had a great love of nature and loved the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District in particular, which is where he used to cycle as a boy and later, as a young man with the local Cycling Club. From his days in the RAF where he was a despatch rider, came his love of motor bikes. He bought one when he was 50 and could now easily afford the one he really wanted and much to the despair of my mother, he rode it regularly through the hills and valleys like some latter day boy racer!!
He fell off a few times and after one particularly nasty accident, the bike was sold. My mother had put her foot well and truly down!
He loved old cars and when he retired was always tinkering around with some new project. It was one of his projects that shortened his life. He had bought an old Alvis which had been found in an old farm outbuilding and brought it back home lashed to the back of a trailer. Then the trailer started to run back down the driveway, he jumped on it like some Burt Lancaster stunt double and swung hard on the brake to make the trailer miss a neighbour’s brand new BMW parked across the road. I don’t think his heart ever recovered from the strain.
So Happy Father’s Day dad, wherever you are. Thank you for all the things you taught me, some I never knew that I had learned; thank you for all the fun and laughter and a few tears too, but most of all thank you for always being there when I needed those strong arms and a big hug; thank you for being my father.