This is my dad. And me. Circa 1983. Note and appreciate the matching Laura Ashley wallpaper and curtains.
Today is my dad's birthday. Or at least it would have been, if he were still alive. He would have been 62 today.
My dad died three years ago. Time has dulled the pain of his absence enough that I can think of him without feeling that the breath has been knocked out of me, but I still don't know how to treat his memory; his birthday and the anniversary of his death.
Dad was a very private man. He loved Manchester United football team, his family (possibly in that order), books, music and films. He laughed generously and often, and loved to play mischievous tricks. He loved words, and playing with words.
I still find myself storing things up to tell dad. New words, jokes that would make dad laugh, books and films that he'd love. I feel so sad to think that I can never share these things with my dad again. It diminishes my pleasure in life knowing that I can't share any of the things I love with dad.
Richard and I saw Bill Bailey live on Saturday. I loved the show, but found myself thinking over and over how much my dad would have enjoyed it. I desperately wanted to share with dad the word, incretinate. To make stupid, cretin-like. I wish I could share Tim Minchin's song, Prejudice. Dad would have got even more joy, if that's possible, than I do from the use of the word homonym.
My dad loved Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. He was so jealous, as I started reading it, that I would get to spend time with the characters that he'd followed. I felt so sad, reading the fabulous sequel that dad would never read, and learning what happened next.
I feel deeply and intensely grateful that my dad passed on his love of life, his humour, his interest in books, films, politics and music to his children. I wish that I could still share these things with my dad.
I wish that I could just have one more year of forgetting dad's birthday, exchanging books, poetry, films and music; of timing my phonecalls to coincide with the football half time (or full time), hearing dad's tone change from reluctant 'hello' to delight at hearing from his favourite (only) daughter.
I never questioned my dad's love for me or my siblings. He took such delight in all of us, and celebrated our differences. He was interested in everything that we loved, and listened so intently as we shared our lives and interests, from rugby to classical music, the psychology of teaching to politics.
I want to celebrate my dad on his birthday, but I still wish so much that he were still here.