My Dad. A man I find so easy to write about. I put my husband aside for a moment and confidently say that my dad was the only man who truly understood me; who could read me as he looked into my eyes. Today would have been a special day for him; his 65th birthday. 29th May 1943 was the day this incredible man began his short life, a life that was to last only 58 years.
Many years ago we walked the two and a half miles along Bamburgh beach. We hardly spoke to each other. Instead, we took it in turns to throw a stick into the sea for the two dogs. We laughed about the way Ben would always leave the stick for Cassie to retrieve. He was a true gentleman; he and my dad had much in common. Earlier in the year of my dad's passing I drove him to Manchester Airport. He was meeting friends to partake in a golfing trip, an annual holiday he took with three other men. On the half hour journey we spoke twice. The first time when dad directed me onto the correct motorway and the second time when we said goodbye at the drop off point. A hug, a kiss and "mind how you go" was all that was needed. Our silences were comfortable. Sometimes I wished we had spoken to each other, discussed politics even, but words never seemed important.
The last time my dad and I were alone together was during our last family holiday in Northumberland, weeks before his passing. We went to Edinburgh for the day. My mum stayed outside the castle walls with Amy and the dog, whilst my dad and I went inside the castle. Few words were once again spoken until it came to 1pm. Directing me to the "one-o'clock-gun" he placed his hand on my back and guided me to where a crowd of onlookers waited, each one looking eagerly at their watches. There may come a day when Amy will want to visit the castle but until that day I will never step foot inside those ancient walls. The memory that I hold so close to my heart will remain ours.
Each year, as most dads are no doubt the same, it was an uphill struggle as to what I should buy him for his birthday. Having two siblings, we all had to make sure we didn't buy duplicate presents. It was usually a jumper or a CD. But there was always something extra I bought him, a little treat if you like; a box of Liquorice Alsorts. They had to be Bassetts. And I had to buy them. I still buy them on his birthday today. And of course, I eat them for him.
He went to a gym three mornings a week. He enjoyed gentle exercise which he said helped him to stay fit and healthy. But his life was in the fast lane, if he slowed down it would have killed him. Holidays were important to him, work was addictive to him and his family were his life. And in the end, the fast lane was to be his enemy when his heart stopped on a treadmill. Fifty eight years was not enough. He deserved many more years to watch his family grow; enjoy those holidays in Northumberland and Florida; maybe even retiring although we could never have believed that would happen. But he is my dad. He will always be my dad. And I love him now more than I have ever loved him before.
Since my dad passed in July 2001, I have welcomed him into my home on many occasions. It is no secret that I feel his presence. He has inspired me every day for the past seven years; his guidance has led me along this new path that I have now become accustomed to. I have learnt things about him, began to understand his character. He held my hand once, not so long ago as I sat in devastation. He supported me during eighteen difficult months of assessing Amy for autism, his love was constant and invaluable. He stood in The King's Hall when I became the farmer's wife, his tearful smile etched in my heart. Even Amy saw him as his light shone on our future. He has further spiritual planes to venture and I know one day my soul will once more journey through another life with his. And as each day draws to a close, I smile, knowing I have felt his love and sensed his spirit beside me.
Happy Birthday, Dad.