Today marks the first anniversary of your passing. I know I regularly see you in the garden, when you come to me as the little robin redbreast, so you might know a lot of this already but I thought I’d send you a letter for you to read when you get a moment. Obviously using the technology required to access this will be a challenge so I’ll also read it to you next time you fly in for a visit.
It’s very difficult to put into words how much I miss you, the conversations I have with you in my head are often the ones we should of had when you were around. There were some things I wanted to say that would have been hard but they should have been said and it’s too late now. I also wanted to tell you I love you. There is a memory of me telling you when we had a moment alone during those last few difficult days but I don’t know if you heard me, I hope you did.
Sometimes I catch myself displaying a mannerism, using certain words or showing a particular behaviour that remind me so much of you. I think you and I were different in a lot of ways but there is no doubt, particularly as I’ve got older, that I am my fathers son.
Memories of you are very comforting. I know that at your core you were a good, kind, sensitive man. That you could so easily be reduced to tears at happy family occasions was always a little embarrassing for me but, I now understand, that was my issue not yours. Tears are good, emotion is good, your love for your family was way better than good.
The night I came over to break the news that I would be a father is a highlight. I remember you needing a few ‘moments’ and going for a quick walk around the block with the dog. What about the time you spent ages teaching me how to fly a kite only for me to get it stuck in a tree within seconds of you handing it over to me? All your children will remember your ‘Dad’s special tea’ fondly. I try and do that for my kids now but it could never be as good as yours.
I know you watch over all your family and friends and visit us often, apparently you’re a magpie for some of the others, but I wanted to update you on some of the highlights anyway.
The extended family all seem to be well. Our sadness at losing you has been lifted, slightly, by a newly energised bond between us. These difficult moments provided opportunities to spend time with family members not seen in years and the various new fangled social media platforms means reconnections have stayed…. connected. Auntie Elizabeth and Mum seem to be closer and have spend a fair bit of time together during the last year. We had a family get together at my house in the garden where we celebrated the lives of those we had lost these last few years. More than a few glasses were raised to Christopher, Auntie Val, Uncle Eric and you that day. I even bought posh sandwiches which went down a storm. You would probably have enjoyed it although the emotion of the day might have got to you. Gary and Marion have been incredible. It’s been such a hard few years for them yet they’ve been there for all of us at every turn. I’m taking the boys for a few days in their holiday cottage next week. Mum keeps telling me I better keep it clean so I’ll be sure to pack the bleach.
I think you’d be proud of Alistair at the moment. We were all very worried that your passing would send him on a downward spiral but he’s shown a real determination to rebuild some kind of life. He took a long time before he hit rock bottom so it’s natural that it will take time to climb back up again. I think he’s doing that though. Don’t worry, if he slips a bit as he makes his ascent we’ll be there to catch him as you always were.
The love Sarah showed for you in those final days was awe inspiring. I really hope you could at least feel it in the room. She never left you Dad, she was so strong then and in the days immediately afterwards. That strength makes her the brilliant wife, mother, daughter, sister and foster mother she is but we do need to remember that sometimes it’s us that have to be strong for her. It doesn’t always have to be the other way round.
It’s been hard for Amy I think being the only one not living in the Wakefield area. I suspect she’s had some difficult moments and I sense the anniversary will be a tough day for her. She’s another one that spends most of her time being amazing though. Always seems to be working, running or doing fantastic things with her kids. Keeps us organised as well although I think she finds it frustrating when we don’t keep in line. I miss Amy.
It breaks my heart for Anna, and you, that you had so little to to enjoy baby James. He’s so fantastically beautiful and loves being at his grandmas so you would have seen a lot of him. Those first couple of weeks after you died were such a blur that I’d almost forgotten that James was admitted to hospital as well. Fortunately it wasn’t too serious but the stress it must have caused Anna doesn’t bare thinking about. She’s been amazing with Mum since day one. Your house is basically hers and James’s second home which has been good for all of them I think.
All your other grandchildren are thriving. It’s a wonderful thing to see them all together and they are all so beautiful, talented and generally supercalifragilistic. I guess they are your real legacy, without your genes, influence and love they wouldn’t be who they are. Whatever else you achieved in life, be proud of this.
So what about Mum? I cannot imagine how tough it’s been for her. We all get to go to our own homes and benefit from the diversions everyday life provides. She doesn’t, she’s still in that space but your physical presence has gone and it leaves a huge gap. The example she’s been to all of us has been incredible. She’s not naturally strong yet she has been strong, brave, adventurous and resilient. I’ve seen her do the best that she can and that has taken all she has. My respect for her is far greater now than it ever was. I don’t think, in fact I know, I could of handled this past year as well as she has. A happy addition to her home in the last couple of weeks though, Lola the puppy is settling in well and will be lovely company for Mum. As I promised you on that last day we will continue to look after her for you. I know you are watching so I hope we are doing enough.
As for me well you know most of it. We talk often in the garden and you can always read my blog (I never miss a chance to promote it Dad 😉). I’d like you to be able to stop worrying about me but I guess the only way that will happen is if I do better. I’ll try.
Newcastle got promoted and are hanging on in there in the Premier League. Rafa Benitez seems to be doing a good job in difficult circumstances. They go to Anfield in a few weeks to play Liverpool so I hope we stuff you as usual. Shanks told us that “football is not life or death, it’s much more important than that”. He was the greatest of men so we know his famous quote was tongue in cheek but I still hope Liverpool win 10-1 (you can have one goal). The England rugby team have won their first two games in the six nations, it looks between them and Ireland for the title. I’ll gloss over the cricket and what happened in the Ashes as it would ruin your day.
Cigarettes and alcohol get more and more expensive so at least you’re saving money these days. I hope that you get the things you like for free now. You better enjoy them while you can because you know that as soon as Mum gets there she’ll be on at you again.
I suppose I should sign off now. Writing to you has been nice but it will never beat just being in the same room as you. Next time you come see me as the robin I’ll leave the window open and you can come in so we can talk inside. I’ll lock the kitten in the kitchen so he doesn’t eat you.
All my love Dad. See you soon.