Collecting memories

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.

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3 thoughts on “Collecting memories

  1. George, I wanted to let you know how this post inspired me yesterday. Modern man is having a real hard time understanding what it is like to be a great dad and great parent – myself included. This week I’ve been really busy, no change really and also sprinkled with being away on business on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. So last night I received the email notification that your blog had been posted. I quickly scanned it and it shouted loudly to me to be with my children as I want to make sure, like you they have great memories of growing up.
    So last night even though tired they had showers and then gave them each a massage. Our children have loved this ever since they were little and it was pure bonding time. My son was first and you could see both us physically relax and mentally tune in. My daughter relaxed asking me to make up a story. In short the story was of a girl who had been shrunk because of a spell from a nasty witch. The girl had a secret measuring device that showed how much love people had in their hearts. She managed to find the witch in a castle and use the measuring device. Unfortunately there was little love in the witches heart and that why she was being so nasty. I’m sure I’ll be asked to finish the story sometime soon!

    So sometimes it is clear that we share information evidence and knowledge wondering how it changes things. I hope this shows how you sharing your story affected my parenting and sense that there is a lot of love in your families heart (and no need to measure) and thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks for this MIke; I’m sure your children know what a great Dad they have…but there can never be too many opportunities to spend time together and make up stories.

      In the spirit of fairness I should just point out that I wasn’t a particularly easy teenager for my Dad to live with and I am soooo glad now for the early memories and the memories we forged since that time….so great plan to fill the bank 🙂

      ps I absolutely love getting comments/hearing what reading a post did for people, so thanks for sharing.

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