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He’d have been so proud

September 15, 2012

He’d have been so proud, my father, and quite awed, and more than a little bemused by the sudden loud shrieks. It makes me happy and wistful to think about him sitting in the upright chair in the dining room absorbed in his stamps or a paper or a journal, and imagining him looking up and smiling as I walk in with a cheeky, chipper little girl her arms outstretched to him grinning broadly. My Pa …

Sadly he never even knew about Hope and that happy scene is only one played out in my mind, he died 4 years ago today and I sat in the dining room holding his hand as it grew cold all night. He was on a borrowed hospital bed, I was on his upright chair … it was very peaceful and also heartbreaking. I’d just got back from picking my wedding dress up in London that day … I didn’t hang round for a manicure, I drove straight back and he was still alive … for an hour or so … and then he slipped away. I was married 4 days later, it was a very surreal week. Hope’s wonderful huge pram takes up a lot of the space in the dining room now where that bed was …

I know my mother gets saddened very often by the thought that Daddy has ‘missed’ Hope, I do to but in a different way. It may sound odd but he knows, and she may never feel his hands or sit on his lap looking up at his wonderful face but she will know him through me, through my mother and through my brother and my dear Uncle … I have his old jacket and one of his shirts, and an old fossil hammer and many letters which I (as a hideous teenager) wrote him, and his loving, calm, witty replies. She will get to know him through them and maybe one day want to read some of his papers and publications … she’ll also know him because he wrote a kind of an autobiography (he always called it his memoirs) after he retired … just his, not those of the family … and I shall read them to her.

I had a miscarriage a couple of years before he died and he knew all about that, it was a difficult time for all of us, I think he had been so pleased to think I was finally going to have a baby he’d forgiven me for not being married.

Today last year I went (with The Spaniard 5 months old inside me) and sat at my father’s grave and told him all about my excitement and fears for the unborn baby, my little Spaniard … this year I shall go with Hope and take some cheerful flowers and have a walk around the grave yard and tell him about her and tell her about her Grandfather … he wouldn’t have been Grandpa or Ganpy or anything like that, he would have been Grandfather … something else would have seemed wrong.

He would be fascinated and delighted by how carefully she examines things, how she turns them over and over in her tiny hands before dropping them. He’d have been horrified by the mess of baby led weaning and I’m sure he’d have been constantly bending down to pick up (and probably eat) the bits she drops … he didn’t like waste! He’d have been enchanted by her chatting and would have recoiled shocked when she let out sudden yelps … my Pa would have been proud of me I think and my determination to do all I can for my girl and wanting her to be part of her heritage (if that makes sense) … and he’d be so proud of her, his first and only Granddaughter and he’d have fallen in love, as we all have with those huge watchful eyes and the way she wrinkles her nose and looks up when she smiled.

I remember sitting on my own Grandfather’s lap and looking up as he blew smoke rings (he smoked a pipe .. I loved the smell … still do), I don’t think people blow smoke rings any more and Hope won’t have the chance to enjoy those personal times with her Grandfather, but maybe in years to come she’ll go and chat to him from time to time like I do and wonder about the explorer, the academic, the leader, the shy gentle honourable man who although she won’t realise it has had such a huge effect on her life.

So … Pa, I’m thinking about you today and I miss you and I have sung your songs to Hope, like you did to my brother and I … not very well and with far to many tum ti tums when the words escape me but I think of you every time I do.

I did it, I got there in the end … and I miss you.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Roger Darlington permalink
    September 15, 2012 7:34 pm

    Such moving words, Ellie. Makes me feel luckier than ever that I can be a granddad to baby Catrin. Looking forward to seeing you and Hope again and giving you both a hug.

    • September 18, 2012 3:16 pm

      thank you so much Roger … your comment here and those on facebook have been so humbling … you are a wonderful Granddad to Catrin and it always gives me such pleasure to hear of the joy you have in each other’s company

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