May 4th has always meant something very different to me, than it does to the majority of the population. I’ve never been a massive fan of Star Wars (though I’m not against it either) but before May 4th became known as “May The Fourth Be With You”, May 4th was actually my dad’s birthday.
I say was, because sadly my dad isn’t around any more. He passed away in March of 2004, just before I fell pregnant with my first daughter.
My mum and dad met in Gibraltar. He was working for MI6, taking photographs of boats that entered in and out of the waters, while my mum worked as a primary school teacher out there. They dated only three months before my dad asked my mum to marry him. The date he proposed was May 28th 1976, the day that three years later would become my birthday. They married out in Gibraltar (picture above) but all of their family traveled to attend.
|Dad and I in a photobooth.
The rest of the strip got lost – they were in my purse when it got stolen last December
Eventually though they moved back to the UK. I was born in May 1979, my brother in June 1982 and my sister in February 1985. We lived in Bristol (where I was born), Sheffield and then Wakefield (where my brother was born), then North Somercotes, Maltby Le Marsh, Louth and Saxilby (my sister was born in Louth while we lived in North Somercotes). For the majority of the time my dad was a dad, he worked and ran a newsagents. There were various ones, but the most memorable was the one we owned in North Somercotes – The Stores, Keeling Street.
|By some miracle I’ve found this picture online. Its taken at the time we must have lived there. 1986.|
I have some amazing memories of living here, especially ones with my dad. Mum still worked as a Primary School teacher but it wasn’t that local. Dad was almost a stay-at-home father, even though he was obviously working in the newsagents – all day, every day. I remember calling in during cross-country runs to get a drink, or heading out to do cash and carry in the big white mini bus we owned at the time. Special trips to KFC that we didn’t tell my mum about. Racing him to the door of the shop every time and crying once when he fell and I felt guilty.
Life changed a lot for us though during our ten years in North Somercotes. Eventually we moved out to Maltby Le Marsh, then to Louth. My dad re-trained to be a teacher, going back to University and starting from scratch. Though we used to fight on and off all the time, I was definitely closer to my dad than my mum. Again I have amazing memories of late night sneak takeaways that my brother and I would order, getting something for my dad but not being allowed to mention it to my mum. Carrots with Sunday Lunch that used to have to be raw, daring each other to drink the water the carrots had sat in.
I moved away to Wales, the first time I got married. During that time my dad got sick and I felt so far away. I’ll never forget the horror of realising he could have a heart attack and I would be much too far away to get there. Eventually it took its strain on my marriage (along with other things) and I ended up moving back to home. When my dad died, my family lived in Saxilby (the village I live in now) and thankfully I’d moved back in, then out again, but was only in Lincoln at the time.
However this wasn’t supposed to be some miserable and depressing post. I haven’t felt sad today, but instead just mindful and perhaps thankful.
My dad was an amazing man. He was loud, but god was he was funny. He was in fact just jolly. Everyone loved him – it was hard not to. I adored him, as little girls often do with their daddies. However at the same times there were days when I would just wish him away. He was tactless and stubborn, as men often are. But no hug in the world has ever compared to one of his. When the thunder crackled and the lightning flashed, dad being there always made everything okay. When my car window got smashed and I was working as a pitiful waitress, dad offering to pay for it to be mended meant the world to me. Even in my late teens and early twenties, I would still sit on his lap and snuggle up with him. Nothing will ever replace those memories.
The thing that probably makes me the saddest, aside from just missing him, is that my dad would have made an awesome grandad. My girls, who are so much like me, would have loved him to pieces. When dad retrained as a teacher, he found his niché in life. However had he ever got the opportunity to be a grandad, I know he would have been simply unbeatable at it.
When I was pregnant with Megan and scratched my then partner’s car, I wished my dad had been there to help me fix things. When my children were born, I wished my dad was there to see them, to love them and to be loved by them. On so many occasions I have thought about him and wished he was there. Even though I thought I would be okay writing this post, to celebrate and not commiserate his life, I find myself missing him and in tears.
To my dad, one of the most wonderful men I have ever met…
I love you. I miss you. Happy Birthday. You are always in my thoughts.
Your loving daughter, Belinda.