Is it really a year since we said goodbye?
I know you have been watching and looking over me. I know it’s been hard for you to see how your death has affected me but I want you to know I’m ok. It’s not been easy but I am stronger for the choices I have made, the decisions I have come to and the things I have decided to leave behind me. Grief is a form of mental health. In fact my mental health was suffering caring for you. My mental health was suffering coming to terms with your death and moving on. I always knew if nature took its course I would dread this day coming. Not because I couldn’t do it but because I loved you so much that I wanted and did give everything I had to and for you. You are and were my world. Even today, I miss you more than ever and talk about you and to you daily. I am so glad I made the decision to put that ahead of anything else in my life. I put you and family first and will never ever look back from that. I don’t have any regrets and can say hand on heart, Dad, I can’t think of anything we never got to say to each other or do together.
You taught me to believe in myself, live every day to the fullest and be myself no matter what. You enabled me to stand up for what I believe in and not to go along with things just because that’s what I should do.
It’s October fifth. A day I will always remember. This is why we have the word memORRies and not fORRgettings.
At 11.40am October 5th 2016 you squeezed my hand for the last time and at 11.55am you were drinking champagne with the angels.
It’s not really a year as it is so much more than that.
It is a year today since I said goodbye to you but we had many months before that of caring, sharing, laughing, loving and hugging even though those times were difficult.
I miss your hugs Dad. Ever since I can remember, we never parted company without having a hug. No matter how much time we spent together whether it be an hour, a day or a couple of minutes, we still made sure we had a hug before we parted company.
Five years, two months and 3 days ago I moved to live below you and Mum. I know God had a hand in that move and he gave us over four wonderful years together. This is not to say we hadn’t had wonderful years together prior to that. We had always shared every moment we could irrespective of the distance between our homes which had never been a great distance. However, these last four+ years were incredible. We were all inseparable. We were able to spend every minute under the sun that we wanted to. I cannot think of anything I never got to say to you or to do with you. I don’t have a single regret. I truly mean that.
A lot has changed in the last year and it all started well before you died, Dad.
You always knew I was never going to remain a head teacher until I retired because you said I had so much to share and give. Even I knew that many years ago because I always I wanted to share what I have experienced, learned and developed over my time as a teacher.
I am blessed to be one of four head teachers in a generation of my family.
There’s me as a primary head with two headships, you, Dad as secondary head, your Father as a Junior school head and your grandmother as a head of a girl’s school back in the 1800s. Aside from that, we come from a family of teachers with 14 of us past and present. There are still three of us actively teaching. Me, my brother and his wife.
A traumatic event in anyone’s life will inevitably lead to a change. My life was going to change.
‘May the first be the start of my new life.’ I know you know what a huge decision this was, Dad, for me to take.
And, indeed it was. It was May 1st 2017 and I was no longer a head teacher. However, I am and always will be a teacher. In fact, any head teacher will always say they are a teacher first. This was my first day rebuilding a new life. Grief is a strange thing and it made me reassess the direction I wanted my life to take. I decided to leave headship and explore new opportunities and use and share what I have learned over the last 26 years in education with a greater audience.
I know you would be proud of me, Dad, of who I am, where I am and what I am doing. I know you would have supported me through these changes and told me you were with me every step of the way. When you have a faith, and my Christian faith is strong, I believe God has a purpose for me. I also believe he has told me to be patient and not rush into accepting any job that comes along.
I have had a period of healing and Mum, who is also on this healing path, has been behind me all along. She has needed my support just as much as I have needed hers. I am her main carer. I promised you I would look after her so you don’t have to worry. I know you did worry about what would happen after your death. You now know you don’t have to worry as you have seen her, where we are and what we do. You were 91 and Mum was 76. You always used to laugh and say you were as old as the woman you felt. There was a difference of 15 years. Mum never felt there was ever a difference and to this day says she never saw you as an old man. You were never old because you were my Dad. I keep my promises Dad simply because it’s love. Our love. A love that never ends.
It’s October fifth. I shall be fifty in twenty five days time. I wish you were here to give me a hug on that day, Dad but I know you will be watching.
Your ashes were interred on my birthday last year which was my choice and makes my birthday an even more special day. The day you gave me life on the 30th October 1967 when I took that first breath and cried. I will cry once again on the 30th October 2017 and not because I have turned 50 years of age, but because I shall celebrate my life; a life given to me by the most wonderful Dad who had a life well lived and a life well loved.
My Mum and I have a bottle of pink champagne and will share it together on that day with a toast to you, Dad, as well as my birthday.
So back to today. I am living a life with amazing teaching experiences. I am delivering training to teachers about my book on differentiation as well as supporting staff in delivering training on well-being. I’m working as an associate consultant delivering support across the country and looking forward to visiting Kent to deliver training to EYFS staff shortly.
I am recently published by Bloomsbury with 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: differentiation. One size does not fit all.
I had the privilege of visiting Third Space Learning to film a webinar about the Dos and Don’ts of differentiation with 10 Ideas as to how to do it well with maths.
Mum was published by Grove books a few years ago. She recalls a time she was invited down to Bath and Wells to share with the diocese her book. She told me when you read the letter inviting her to visit that you were so proud of her.
She said to me that my you would be so proud of who I am, what I am doing and where I am going.
I miss you, Dad, more every day. I know you are proud that I am sharing my experiences, knowledge and skills with many. It says in the book of Hebrews, ‘Share what you have for such is pleasing to God.’
We łive a life to give to others. I am beginning to rebuild a life so that I can have a life and not simply exist.
I am a teacher. I am me.
So, Dad, here’s to you. You are the most amazing and inspirational man a girl could ever have. I miss you more every day but my life is so much richer because you have been in it for so many years.
I know you may not approve of tattoos but I have the words said at your funeral tattooed across my shoulders as well as in a piece of stained glass Terry did for us.
We also have a new piece of stained glass just for you.
Today is your day, Dad.
You have not gone to the grave but into the glory and love of God.
You are not just a good Dad but a very good Dad. You’re an ORRsome Dad.
You are my Dad and I love you and miss more each day that passes.
I love you Dad. X