A significant anniversary was quietly observed today; on this day 30 years ago, my father died suddenly. I had an off-kilter day, almost as though I was running behind on everything all day.
When new acquaintances learnt that Dad died when I was quite young, they would often remark that I had missed so much. I found this a curious statement - how can you miss something you never had? Now that I have children of my own, I understand what they meant. My eldest daughter is nearly at the age I was when Dad passed away. The thought of her and her sisters going through their lives without their father around to share in their achievements or be present in the mundane moments or to help guide them through the challenging times is something I do not like to even to contemplate.
Growing up, I had no dad on the sideline cheering me on or to ask for help with my homework or draw upon his life experience. These were all things my mum did instead, unfailingly and without complaint. She, who at the age of 38, the age I am now, was suddenly left shouldering the responsibility of raising six children and running a farm alone. She is one amazing woman, I have nothing but total respect and admiration for her.
This overexposed photo is one of only a very few that I have of my parents. I love it. They looked so happy together. They shared a love for music; Mum an accomplished, self-taught pianist and Dad on his beloved guitar. I remember our whole family spending many evenings singing accompanied by them both on their instruments. I remember the oversized watch he used to wear, his large farm-roughened hands and the way he would slick his hair back with Bryl cream Fonz-style when he got ready to head out for community group meetings.
So, on this day, if I could have one more conversation with you, Dad, what would I say? I would say that I feel like I am living a blessings-filled life with a family that you would adore. I am happy. I have married a man who you would have approved of. He is so incredibly good and patient and kind. He's good with his hands, like you, Dad. Although your granddaughters never got to meet you, they ask about you, I talk to them about you and I think they each have their own, unique picture in their heads of what you were like. You would be so proud of them, they are quiet achievers and I think a couple of them may have your natural sporting talent and showmanship. One of them has your dancing blue eyes.
We feel your absence acutely at family gatherings but mark it all in our own way and we carry on. It is all we can do. We continue to live our lives in a way in which you would be proud. We love you. But I think you know all this already.