Bet you never thought you'd be receiving Father's Day messages from me when you'd been gone over ten years and your daughter is doing this weird thing called "blogging" did you Dad? Thought not.
I have a few ways in which I like to have a little chat to you - when I come and visit your grave, when I see a robin in my garden, when I find a white feather unexpectedly - you know, all the cliched ones that you'd have absolutely hated. "Don't bother coming to lay flowers for me when I'm gone for Gods sake" you'd tell me. Now I do just that purely on the basis that if you'd said all that in the way us women insist that things are "FINE" when things are absolutely 100% NOT fine then I'd be convinced you're looking down on me with your stern face, a little disappointed if I didn't rock up with a bunch of flowers or even a hello every few months. I largely prefer to have chats with you though at random times if I'm honest. Like when I hear a song on the radio that makes me think of you for instance. The other day a Carpenters song came on and it instantly reminded me of you, despite the fact I'm pretty sure you only had the LP to drag out for dinner parties and it really wasn't something you listened to that regularly anyway. I had to trawl through your record collection for hours after you died to find what to play at your funeral, I had very little idea after seeing you on the sofa for years with your headphones on what your favourite song even was, or even if you might just have been using them to drown out the incessant racket of your teenage daughter playing Britpop at top volume in her room above. Now I'm on the other side of that with your six year old grandson playing Ed Sheeran constantly at high volume so I think I know how you felt. Trust me, if I hear Galway Girl one more time.......
I just worked out we spent 30 Fathers Days together. Obviously the first few I may not have been the best conversation and perhaps the few in between during the teenage years on my part may have been a bit sparse on wit but we had some good ones. I drew you pictures of how I saw you, which were very much standard child drawings of "man with beard." And, as life goes full circle yet again, your grandson is doing exactly that drawing pictures of his own Dad.
Now I've had ten Fathers' Days without you I only wish I could pick up the phone and call you to wish you a great day. To share a daft joke. To tag you in a daft meme or GIF on Facebook or Twitter. You'd have liked those a lot. I would probably be talking you through how to use Instagram, it would have definitely appealed to your love of design and photography. If you're anything like Mum you'll be peering through your reading glasses wondering what the hell that button does.
Let's face it, whatever button it was, you'd have pressed it anyway. Absolute rebel. You'll be very pleased to hear, and I hope that you already know this from watching over your Grandson, that he is just as mischievous with a very similar wicked sense of humour as you. His six year old thought processes are something else entirely, ranging from "Mum there's a dragon in the loft, he likes biscuits" to "Why don't we have more fingers so I can be faster at Fifa??" He talks about you a lot you know? Every time a picture is drawn or a model is made and he's unleashed his creativity, he'll often say "Grandad John would like this." He's currently on the mission to gain his Blue Peter badge by sending them a picture he drew of the Mary Rose. Oh yes, I'm raising a cultured one alright.
Dad. If I'm honest, I'm a bit cross with you. For buggering off and dying on me too soon. Leaving the party too early. I hadn't really grown up when you left. Admittedly, I had just turned 30 so probably really should have done but I'm not convinced any little girl is truly a grown up when her Daddy is still around. I had to do a lot of growing up and I'm not a fan of it if I'm honest. It's a bit dull for a start. Housework, bills, putting the bins out, where's the fun in all that? I just wish you were still here for me to call you, wind you up, share our stupid jokes and for you to moan at me about anything and everything.
I'm also cross with you for giving me the following inherited traits -
You absolutely hated walking into a room full of people and having to make "smalltalk." Eww. Ditto.
2) Staying up too late when you really shouldn't.
You were a real night owl and could absolutely do it because you were self employed and didn't have to be at work at 9am. And now I'm self employed and don't have to be at work at 9am I have a six year old who doesn't understand sleep. Ouch.
3) A sense of humour that not everyone "gets."
I'm sure some people either think I'm weird, massively socially awkward (although I'm absolutely that too at times) or just rude. But I have to use humour to break the ice. Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires and sometimes I just look like an utter........
I didn't even know I had this until I had my son. And now he is as stubborn as I am and indeed you were. It Drives. Me. Mad. It's always a bit weird seeing an annoying habit you have reflected back at you in your child. Why can it never be the nice attributes??
It's funny how history sort of repeats itself. When I was a kid, your methods of relaxation would be sitting in the garden in the sunshine, doing a BBQ, sitting and reading, listening to whatever music was on those headphones, (or forcing me to listen to some awful jazz music) being obsessed with taking photographs of everything, painting and then later on, writing. I'm proud to tell you I have reinvented myself from an absolutely God-awful cook (that part you will remember, I used to attempt to cook for you and Mum on Saturday nights with mostly dire consequences) to an absolute Barbecue Queen if I say so myself. Reading and Music are as big a part of my life as they were in yours, though I still have to draw the line at listening to jazz I'm afraid. Painting as you will remember, seemed to miss me in the inherited traits, in fact it missed, slapped me on the way past and laughed a little too loudly, safe in the knowledge that whenever I attempt to draw something for my son, even he doesn't know what the hell it's supposed to resemble. Photography, well, as I've mentioned already, you would have been all over Instagram like a rash and now I get to do it as part of my job. And the big one. Writing. Now you had one up on me - you wrote books. Working it out, you would have been around the same sort of age as I am now when you started - or perhaps you always had? But from what I remember you were often scribbling away or taking yourself off into your office to put pen to paper and more than likely get a bit of peace and quiet.
And, without realising, I seem to be doing all those sorts of things too now. I didn't go into this thinking "I want to do what my Dad did" I just sort of fell into doing what I love and then it hit me how, (I hope), you would be proud, or in your own little way "quietly chuffed" for me. It really has come full circle, I'm proud to say I take photos and write for a living now. I'm incredibly proud to say "Just like my Dad used to."
Happy Father's Day Daddy. xx