Remembering Daddy…

Today would have been my father’s 91st birthday!

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I miss him more now than I did when he first passed away.

Life was frantic in my house seven years ago…Spring Break was pending, children were every which way and Galveston, with our youngest and her friend, was beckoning.

There was no rush in England so we headed for the beach…

There I spent spare moments planning the funeral and making travel arrangements.

Three weeks later found me in Broadstairs for a week where I buried Daddy and made sure Mummy had everything she needed.

Her life had hardly changed, Daddy hadn’t lived at home for over a year and she was used to fending for herself.

I met with the solicitor to hurry along probate and the property lawyers to ensure the sale of the house (now hers) was still on track…

There were no kinks in the chain.

The next six weeks were a flurry of activity, signing contracts and transferring money in order for Hubs,

(at the end of a business trip)

To clear out the bungalow in Broadstairs,

(where my parents had lived for the last 23 years)

And mastermind the move to London where we had purchased a flat for Mummy a mile or so away from her son, my brother.

For the next couple of years I was immensely busy.

I had no time to sit still and consider how it felt to be fatherless.

RememberDad

Germany

Daughts and I became commuters across the pond to watch out for Mum.

I amazed myself at how much I could cram into a three week visit,

And how helpful the social workers and hospitals were when it came to providing for my mother who was rapidly declining into a world of her own.

I hatched a scheme to move the three of us,

(Hubs, Daughts and myself)

Into the flat with her so that I could be there when things went irreversibly wrong.

Which they did just as we landed in London.

I spent a busy year re-discovering my roots while Daughts finished Performing Arts College and Hubs experienced the English life in a London flat with public transport and the West End!

I lived my grief amid the flotsam of their lives and in the process discovered I was my father’s daughter when it came to being organized.

RememberDad2

Iran

He kept receipts for everything going back to their wedding rings and first car.

I found hotel bills and cruise ship itineraries reflecting holidays taken during his diplomatic career.

There was a post office savings account opened when my father was ten by my grandmother in the 1930′s.

I leafed through programs from every show he took us to on special occassions including Oliver, My Fair Lady and Coppelia.

I hefted the metal number plates from our car in Beirut back to America.

I sorted through empty chocolate boxes stocked with shoe cleaning materials, electrical supplies and string.

In the kitchen I used cake tins with perfect rounds of cardboard used to protect their non stick surfaces from scratching when stacked.

In his wardrobe were suits, jackets and shoes,

In his dressing table drawer were cravats and handkerchiefs,

In his bedside locker were cufflinks and expandable arm bands.

Tools for every job imaginable abounded,

As did kitchen gadgets ranging from a boiled egg topper to an expandable plastic glass I had thought was state of the ark when I was a youngster.

I projected colour slides of photographs I’d never seen that told stories I’d never know

And gave my brother the handmade manger and Christmas tree decorations from their first years of marriage.

I combed his belongings for items I wished to keep,

Shed tears over the records and furniture I’d lived with for so many years of my life and had to leave behind.

I worked at his desk, soaked up the smell of the wood polish and leather and laughed with Daughts over ‘pre-sealed’ envelopes I found by the dozen, ruined by the damp, sea air of Broadstairs, yet neatly stacked with fine quality, vellum writing paper.

After a year we returned to America, the flat unsold and waiting for our return.

We married off our youngest son and sold our family home before setting off for London again to wrap up the estate.

We were homeless for two years before finding Footlights,

And all of a sudden seven years have passed…

I may never see my father walk through the trees of my grounds,

Or watch him enjoy a cup of tea in my lounge,

Or eat cheese and biscuits after a meal at my kitchen table,

But I will think of him every time I see the daffodils bloom in my front flower bed,

RememberDad4

Footlights

And use his tea-strainer for my afternoon cuppa,

And eat my cereal with the Huckleberry Hound spoon he ordered for me as advertised on the side of the box of Weetabix,

And smell warm leather.

His cut glass brandy snifters are in my butler’s pantry,

And his handwriting is scattered throughout the Letts diaries kept, for as long as I knew him, in his inside jacket pocket.

All these simple things bring him back to me.

It may have been seven years ago that I whispered the Lord’s prayer to him into the phone as he lay dying in a hospital bed,

But every time I pick up one of his little red pencils at my desk to make notes,

RememberDad3

I remember the first day I wrote my name,

We were both sprawled on the living room carpet in Germany,

I was three.

I miss you Daddy, you are in my everyday…especially when I’m writing!

Thank you for everything you taught me.

May you rest in peace and Happy Birthday!

Amen.

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