This is more than likely going to horrify you, being the intensely private person that you are. But on your first Father’s Day without Dad, I thought I would celebrate the best thing we ever did: YOU.
When you were born, I couldn’t believe that I had actually made a baby. After nearly three days of labour and three different types of hard core anaesthesia (none of which worked), I had almost stopped believing you were real. The first words that I uttered when they placed your slimey, squishy babyness on my belly was,
“Oh my God! It really IS a baby!”
Dad and I wept. I fell in love for the second time in my life.
Dad never left my side the entire time. and for most of those 69 hours, my nails were dug into his arms. I did wonder when on earth he managed to get to the loo.
You shifted our world. Quite literally. You walked at 9.5 months, talked at 10 months, and pretty soon you refused to do anything unless you could do it “mysoolf!” You were still teeny tiny but you had an incredible sense of humour.
And I never slept through the night again. Ever.
Dad would rock you (actually ‘swing you’!) to sleep every night in his arms, singing at the top of his voice and playing his wonderful compositions as loud as he could. No one believed that this actually made you fall asleep. But it was about the only thing that did.
You came to your first performance at the age of 4 months, and I just carried you on stage for many of those shows. You would sit on my hip as I sang, facing the audience, watching dad conduct us in the choir and pretty soon, it didn’t matter how well we sang. You had melted the hearts of the audience – as Dad conducted us, your little baby arms were waving too, conducting Dad right back 🙂
At five you were scintillating, smart and sensitive. Back then, our home was a madhouse, always full of fun, creative, beautiful people. “Mummy, who slept over last night?” was what you’d often say as soon as you woke up! You had an endless array of wonderful young folk who vied for your attention, and you loved hanging out with them.
But you deserved so much more of our time. I was starting to get sick with chronic fatigue syndrome and Dad was always working, always creating and producing shows.
So you took action. You taught yourself to write.
In your teens, Dad became less Mr Awesome and more Mr Annoying. But on this particular day, everything was shiny. It was in May of 2010, we walked the dogs to the park, we took photos of each other, we laughed in the sunshine and we all LOVED your hat.
Walking was becoming increasingly painful for Dad, but he ignored it, thinking it he had badly strained a muscle.
Just weeks later after that sunny photo was taken, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
For the next four years, you shared The Drama. Listened to the sounds of illness, witnessed the transformation, dealt with the sadness and adjusted to everything that cancer brought into our home. Your dad changed in front of your eyes. And Life was never the same.
Then on April 22nd this year, I took this goofy picture.
It was Dad’s idea to hold up the fingers to make two 2’s for ‘22’. It was your twenty-second birthday, the last one you shared with dad. He was so unwell that day, but you never let on how sad you felt. And Dad never showed how disappointed he was. We all just partied around him.
Twenty-two days later, Dad said his last good-byes to you.
In that last conversation, I remember him saying, over and over, how much he loved you and how proud he was of you.
What a pair! The same eyes, the same amazing creative spirit.
And may I say, you’ve done a fine job of raising yourself, despite your parents 🙂
I’m so happy we made you.
With love from your greatest admirer,
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