Sunday, 19 March 2017

When We Were Very Young

When We Were Very Young was one of my favourite books when I was a  child, a book of poems about childhood written by AA Milne . Every night at bedtime, my Dad read me a story, and every night I wanted a poem. Not again, he used to say. But he did read it, because he was special like that my Dad.

And now I miss my Dad.

My Dad, the quiet man, died two weeks ago today after a long, short illness, sudden death type of thing. You know, the thing, 85 great years, 1 year of illness, lots of serious illnesses which he adapted to and lived with, and then, bam, that was it.


I'd like to share a little bit of him with you, if that's ok. He was the middle child of 11, he was number 5 amongst 8 boys and 3 girls. We used to joke, 7 brides for 7 brothers but there were 8 of them. My grandfather had come from a large farming family, and believed in good bloodstock! In every big family each child tends to take on a role, and in my Dad's case this was so true. Dad was the quiet man, as my husband said in his eulogy, my dad was the Gary Cooper character. Dad was quiet, he didn't say much, but when he did you listened. Dad was also very clever, my grandparents were ambitious and believed strongly in education being the way to a good life. Now, my grandparents weren't on the breadline, but nor were they super duper rich. They ensured that Dad had everything he needed for grammar school. Indeed they educated all of their children, and that they had everything for Scouts etc, not easy with 11 children.

Dad then branched out and went to live in the Big Smoke, in London. Depending on his mood, he either had a great time, going to the rugby, listening to political speakers and philosophers of the time, (told you he was quiet!) or he was terribly homesick for family in Belfast. Anyhow he met my mum in London, came home to Belfast and "sent" for her. And the rest is history. Or it should have been, but my mum died when we were young. My father stepped up, as Gary Cooper would have done, and was both parents to us. He taught himself to cook, to bake, to work the washing machine and all the things that needed to be done. The man done good.

He encouraged me, or perhaps humoured me in all my many hobbies, whether it be a houseful of fuschia cuttings, bonsai trees in orange peel pots, quilting or knitting. He even wore the fair isle knitted slipover which went wrong, albeit he wore it in the greenhouse. Perfect for the greenhouse apparently. And, being an accountant, it is probably still in his wardrobe.

My father gave me a love of literature, gardening, country walks, well both my parents did. As an accountant, he also advised me if it looks to good to be true, it usually is; it is a lot easier to spend money than to earn it; keep enough put by that if it all stopped tomorrow you would survive; yet that you are also a long time dead. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, don't eat yellow snow!

Helen
ps I tried to read When We Were Very Young to my own children but they hated it.

16 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute to your father....he sounded like the perfect dad. I lost my dad 10 years ago this June and I still miss him, so I'm not going to tell you that time will heal.....perhaps it won't hurt just as much but he'll always be with you.

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  2. Every time you write about your dad, I can sense the deep love and affection that you have for him (and him for you). I am so sorry for your loss and am extending much love and many virtual hugs to you.

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  3. What a wonderful write up about your Dad, the quiet man. Your love for each other is so apparent in your writing. Such a good man. I'm sure you really miss him.

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  4. So sorry for your loss, what a great tribute to him!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your dad with us. My dad has been gone for over twenty years yet I often think of him, what he would say or do, and always knowing that he supported and believed in me. Your father sounds like that, too.

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  6. What a lovely tribute to your dad. Dad's are sooo special and when they are not there it hurts so much. I lost my wonderful dad almost three years ago to cancer, which took him way too early. And i think of him every day as you will. He will always be with you, his 'little' girl'.... A beautiful pic of you both too... Xxxx

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  7. What a lovely tribute to your dad. Dad's are sooo special and when they are not there it hurts so much. I lost my wonderful dad almost three years ago to cancer, which took him way too early. And i think of him every day as you will. He will always be with you, his 'little' girl'.... A beautiful pic of you both too... Xxxx

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  8. Your dad sounds like an absolutely marvellous person and I'm not surprised you want to share what he was like. What a massive hole he will leave, but so many lovely memories and so many ways in which he has contributed to who you are.xxx

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  9. So sorry for your loss. What a lovely tribute to your Dad. Your Dad held a special place in your heart and always will.

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  10. My deepest condolences on the loss of your father. Thank you for sharing part of his story. I hope these memories, and many others, give you some comfort. It is a very special father, indeed, who will wear a sweater gone wrong!

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  11. Sympathy to you. Thanks for sharing the story of your dad. survivor972002@midco.net

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  12. How lucky you are to have had him so long. He sounds so supportive and very special. A wonderful tribute Helen.

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  13. Oh sweetie I'm so very sorry. Sending hugs across the water xxx

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  14. My condolences. Thanks for sharing.

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  15. It was very interesting to read all about your dad. He was a truley amazing person. So sorry for your loss.

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  16. Well I think I'm finally caught up on your blog, and reading this last (I started 'today' and worked backwards), is a wonderful, but poignant way to BE caught up. I loved hearing more about your dad; it is clear you and he were very close. It brings my own father close to me reading this; he was quiet too, and I miss him still. I hope, well, I'm pretty sure, speaking from my own experience, that memories of good and special times with him will keep him close forever. Hugs my friend.

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