Today would have been your 62nd birthday. The First of October, 1955. One of my favourite days in my all time favourite month.
Me and Mum have just got back from a week in Cornwall where we were thoroughly sandblasted but also spoilt rotten with turquoise seas and clear blue skies. In that short beautiful seven days the Peaks have taken on a new life. Everywhere has a golden hue from the fall of Autumn and trees have become a vibrant and vicious red. There is a distinct smell of bonfire and a low mist clings to the vast green meadows even into late afternoon. The nights are drawing in, incense burns through the night and I’m listening to Classic FM to help me sleep. You’d be proud Dad, I’m even starting to remember the names of certain pieces. Remember what you always used to say? Go on then, who wrote this? And without hesitation you would recall the composer and the title. Right now it’s one of my personal favourites, Pavane Opus 50, Gabriel Faure.
This time last year we all together went to Blackpool to see the ‘hallucinations’ as you would call them. We braved the bitter Northern cold, ate fish & chips, flew kites high into the wind and laughed of old memories. You pushed and fought so hard insisting on walking through the fatigue and the breathlessness. Up and down the Promenade you walked pushing your chair as a cloud of vapour from the liquid oxygen followed you from the flasks. It would be difficult to say this was the day I felt most proud of you, I felt this sense of pride in you each and everyday for the bravery you showed.
Today I realised truly for the first time in how courageous you were in your battle. Not once did you ask, ‘why me’ and not once did you allow yourself to be angry at the world for putting this suffering on you. Instead, you felt tremendous guilt that you were a burden. My dear Father, you were never a burden. Far from it. You were my joy, my laughter, my soul and my true friend. A genuine smile from you was enough to light up my darkness, and to hear your voice again would be a wonderful thing. I miss our talks, our long endless talks about everything. I miss it all.
To not have you here is surreal. It’s like a dream I’ll wake up from, which makes it all the harder to remember that you won’t be. Although your spirit is around and you show signs of your presence, there is a deep hole in my heart that I’m finding difficult to stitch together in your absence. Maybe this is something that I will have to battle for years to come? As I asked as we said goodbye, please don’t leave me completely. I could never bear it.
I find myself sitting and reading your books. Looking through your diaries. Holding your scarf. Tracing my fingertips over your handwriting. Soothing the pain through the wonderful messages you sent to me in your final months. You’re all around. Not only do you run in my blood, but your legacy lives on as it will for many years ahead. A promise I intend to keep. On your 62nd birthday, we will set you free. You can roam the Peaks and you can finally be released from the pain you have endured this past two years. I will fight in your name to help others and I will ensure your name will never be forgotten. Although my children will never meet you, they will know you. When I meet the love of my life, I will make sure he knows what he has to live upto. Should my grandchildren sit on my lap and ask about their Great GrandFather, I will tell them all the wonderful memories you have left me.
I wondered whether it would be right to still buy you a birthday card. Your Father’s Day card burnt to ash with only your spirit to lay eyes on it. I told you to let go. Our final day and I was willing you on such a fateful day that it was okay to pass. We were ready. Well, we weren’t, we never were. But you didn’t deserve to hurt anymore. Now in your card I will write of my pride in you, my love for you and my joy in having created so many cherished memories even in all these dark times.
My dear, dear Father.
As it always has and always will be. It is never goodbye. Just, see you later.
All my love.
Your one and only baby girl. And the wolf companion who you adored so deeply.
Happy Birthday. Make a Wish.