When Dad was in the hospice he was given two memory boxes to fill for my nieces. This week he’s been thinking about what to put in them, we’ve covered all the usual things – photos, games, things that are symbolic of Bobby and relate to him. Mum and I got thinking though and we thought it was quite hard to know what to put in – Dad is a man of few (written) words, a man who is practical not academic, a doer not a thinker, a man who shows his love by making or fixing….none of which is that easy to capture and put in a box. One of the reasons I started blogging was in the hope that when my niece was older (and now I have two when they’re both older) that they’d have some record of what their Grandad was like, who he was and how he lived his life, and his death. I want them to know what a great man he was and what a fantastically brilliant Grandad he would have been if things were different.
I’ve been thinking a lot and intend to try and capture yet more memories and Bobby’isms to share with them when they’re older. For now though we wanted to capture other people’s memories of Dad and we came up with what I think is a fairly inspired idea – if I say so myself! We thought that we’d give people postcards at Dad’s funeral and ask them to share a memory, or a thought, or an expression – or anything really that would capture Dad. In a warped way I’m almost looking forward to hear what people say. I remember reading Graham Norton’s Telegraph column where he talked about the time after his Dad’s death:
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I got to know my father better in the weeks following his death than I ever did or could have done when he was alive. These positives don’t take away the pain but I think they can help us make sense of what has just happened.
In a strange way I’m looking forward to that time, to the memories, to hear about how other people experienced my Dad. I know that it will be affirming. When other people’s Dad’s were at work, or away on business, or too busy watching football or down the pub, my Dad was always around. He was very present when we were young kids, as a postman he worked hours that meant he was able to be very involved as a Dad on a daily basis. Really he was ahead of his time and played a very active role in our upbringing, he was one of a very small number of Dad’s at the school gate picking the kids up from school and certainly one of the few Dad’s (only?) I knew who would proudly iron (in shorts in the garden if the weather allowed)! He really was a great Dad and someone that people loved to be around.
I know that Dad has had a positive impact on so many people and I can’t wait to try and capture some of that so his granddaughters grow up knowing how much he loved them and how great a Grandad he would have been. For now we’ll stick with the postcard idea but if anyone has any other suggestions for how we capture memories I’d love to hear about them. Thank you.