There are further words for my late father, following the recent surreal day of his funeral. We knew that my youngest sister would stand up to present a reading and I knew it would offer some insights into her and Dad: a time when she was a child, when I was away at College or University or away in my head, when their times and play together were different to my play with him some years earlier. Being the youngest, perhaps the most protected, had an interpretation of a down-side; though being the youngest also seems to have had its up-side too.
I was genuinely struck with the beauty of this reading, as my sister read it: other people relate intensely to those we also relate to ourselves, but they relate in shifted arrangements. I was struck by ‘seeing’ Dad, in his play, in their play for those few minutes. So I asked my sister’s permission to publish those words here.
I appreciate that these writings of my father are of an intensely personal nature (my own and my sister’s and any more that may come to be), but I trust that the element of play that this blog is primarily focused on is all good for you, this readership. In writing there is healing. In writing there is the hope that others can also see their times of shared play and, ultimately, of love. This post is shorter than I normally publish up, but for me — today — there are no words more I can add.
These are my sister’s words:
I remember Dad as being a man who did things his way. When I think of Dad, I think of Monty Python, his love of Cornwall, watching the old Cowboy and Indian films with him.
I think of his sense of humour, which was definitely unique to him: the way he would whistle to the tune of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’, or the way he would sing ‘I’ve got a song that’ll get on your nerves’, which would always end up stuck in my head for days afterwards.
I think of when I was growing up: every Sunday evening we would sit as a family at the dining room table and have cakes, listening to the Top 40 on the radio, with Dad on my right-hand side. I think of silly little things like Dad letting me play snooker with him at the local Social Club, even though I could barely see over the side of the snooker table and it was against the club rules.
I think of Dad cutting the grass in the garden into a maze just so I could follow behind him; of Dad cutting my toast into the most awkward of shapes; of his fried egg sandwiches that he liked to eat on a Sunday morning whilst reading the paper. I think of his Freddie Mercury dancing, of our trips to the zoo, of toasting whole loaves of bread on the open fire while Mum was at work.
I think of hiding behind Dad’s newspaper when I didn’t want to go to school, of the ‘stranger danger’ bus he used to drive, of making bridges with him and flicking rubber bands around the house. I think of running around the living room with Dad, singing songs from the ‘Jungle Book’.
I think of our family holidays to Cornwall: looking in rock pools, clambering over the rocks to get out to sea with him; of Dad diving over the side of the dinghy we were in to get his sunglasses from the sea.
All of these little things and more, I remember, are to me the most important things about my Dad . . .
I would like to finish by reading a message from my four year-old daughter:
Dear Grandad Poorly Head, I love you today. Please look after Coober [my dog] and your dog from when you were little. Love K.