Tuesday was the second anniversary of the death of my father.
I came home from a long weekend in Liverpool to find an email to me and my brother, from my sister.
- Great with grandchildren
- Always gave Mum a big bouquet on their anniversary
- Told good stories about Ted and the Pirates
- Good at reading bedtime stories (Treasure Island, Tale of Two Cities, Lord of the Rings)
- Led good harmony singing in the car
- Enthusiasm for Lake District
- Happy to babysit at any time
- Set up garden badminton, cricket, etc
- Made some things successfully, like small cricket bat, go kart with no brakes
- Enjoyed playing badminton with everyone at the club followed by a glass of cider
- Always made us all a cheese sandwich at 9.00 pm
- Allowed darts in the lounge so that whole wall was covered in dart holes
- Allowed round the table games of table tennis in the dining room
- Always jumped to it when Nana asked for something, despite swearing under his breath
My brother had added:
- Was a willing taxi service for teenagers, anytime, anyplace, anywhere
- Told me to keep driving and got in the passenger seat when he flagged me down driving the car aged 14. Gave me tips
- Bonded with Bethan instantly making her part of the family [Bethan is my step-niece]
- Later, Mia coined the name “Best friend Grandad” (her own words)
- Font of knowledge around the dinner table. Most of my knowledge of Trivial Pursuit questions comes from this
- Told me to be a lion, not a lamb
- Trained me how to do ‘close control’ football in the garden (balance, weight shift, dribbling, footwork)
- With mum as a partner in tennis, still managed to singlehandedly beat me and my mates (not bad players)
- Always seemed a jolly type – whistling and singing
- Always had boiled a ham ready for us when we arrived, no matter what time of day or night
- Believed in welcoming people and good hospitality
- Author of an encyclopaedia of recipes which we still use regularly (despite the convenience of the internet)
- Imparted good table manners and high moral standards
I spent most of my life trying desperately to find reasons to like him and feeling totally torn about that, so for the first time ever I am enjoying thinking "he was a utter pig" without any guilt at all.
I spent yesterday walking on Crosby beach in the sunshine feeling glad he was gone. Last week I remembered the anniversary but got the date wrong (I'd thought it was the 11th) and prior to that I hadn't even cared. He did too much damage for me to feel comfortable lauding him or any of his 'achievements', which seem to amount to 'sometimes acting like an actual human being'.
Even Charles Manson made his 'family' feel loved - Dad never once managed that.