on the anniversary of the day we lost our Dad, I usually write about how much I miss his wisdom and how his values inform my life every day. All of that still stands, our Dad was a proud, working class man for whom family was everything. A quietly spoken man, who we seldom saw angry, he made our lives as easy as he could.
Lately in lockdown I have been researching our family tree, and in doing so am seeing all my ancestors in a different light. Dad had a sister who died. We all knew the story, a difficult labour, no money for doctors and both Mother and baby lost forever. We had always assumed she was younger than Dad, but I now know she was the eldest of the four children. Married twice before her death at just twenty six, I think she was a strong woman. This then led me to the other women in the family. I find a maternal great grandmother who had followed her heart and left her home to marry. This couple somehow ended up living many miles away from their families, and made a new life beside the sea. Dad’s Mum, juggled living through two world wars, with very little money, while feeding and caring for a family of six. Rumour has it Dad was her favourite child, spoiled with love, as there was very little else.
I think these women had a massive effect on Dad. He became a man who respected women, who loved completely and sincerely and despite incredibly poor beginnings he grew into the strongest man I have ever known. His wicked sense of humour was legendary, and his passion for justice and fairness in the world was proven in his trade union work.
My sister and I are the results of all that went before. A mixture of our parents and all their ancestors, we have grown into adults without the guidance of our Mum and Dad, I think we have done alright. Our children are happy and healthy and each of them is now adult and making their own paths through this world.
So, in the thirty five years without you Dad, I have tried to keep to your values. I have learned more about you than you ever told me. I understand where your passion for equality came from, how your childhood days with no shoes and little food grew into pride in standing on your own two feet. The love you learned, and shared is still a part of me. Despite your absence, you have held me close through life’s troubles. The idea of you became the central part of me and with that I have done my best, in tricky times and happy days, you have never been far away.