It is two years since we were together. I held your hand as you lay sleeping. This wasn’t anything out of the ORRdinary. We’d often sit and watch films together my hand in yours and yours in mine and you would drift off to sleep. I always loved watching the Ghost and Mrs Muir with you. There was something so peaceful about the ending. Having since read the book we both noted how much different it was but that still didn’t take away from ur love of the film.
Since we last talked mORR has changed and continues to day by day. All the lilies flowered again this year. I found a few others to plant this year because their names reminded me of you. I planted some called Boogie Woogie Piano as you loved the ragtime feel. I also planted a pink Calla lily called Pretty Woman. You always loved the scene in Pretty Women when Richard Gere took Julia Roberts to the opera to see Verdi’s La Traviata. Little did I know when the film were first released that I would get the opportunity to play the tragic role of Violetta. It was a wonderful experience and a life changing one too. I recall singing the role several nights in two different theatres. Opening night was the biggest surprise. At the end of the evening the producer knocked on my dressing room door and said someone was here to see me. You and Mum had been sitting at home with tickets for other performances when Mum had said she couldn’t bear to sit at home knowing it was opening night so you decided to come. I was totally unaware until the end of the performance. I remember Mum telling me she could hear sniffles round the audience during the death scene and she said you had been touched so much by it. She also says you commented that you saw your little girl die in the arms of Alfredo. It was an emotional rollercoaster portraying Violetta. When the opera run was over I had to let her go and there was a strange loss for a while.
Two year’s you squeezed my hand for the last time at 11.40am. I cradled your face, held your hand and at 11.55am you died in my arms and joined the angels for champagne. It was so peaceful, Dad, and I know you knew we were all there with you. Your life of 91 years is a life well lived and a life well loved. I do miss you dearly, Dad. I miss being able to nip upstairs to tell you something. I miss you ringing inviting me for a glass of wine. I miss our hugs and holding your hand. We never parted company without a hug. Hugs are never the same now.
So, what’s new? I’ve been in my new job for almost six months and since I first started the role, things have changed. Right now I spend half of my time working with NQTs and trainee teachers and the other half working with aspiring middle and senior leaders. Only just this last week I’ve been introducing myself to each of the 27 established teachers on my caseload. They are excited about their journey ahead. It has thrilled me when they have asked about my background and said how excited they are about working with me. Wait until they find out you were a head teacher along with your father and grandmother. It’s lovely to meet new people and invite them into your life through a new role.
May 1st 2017 was a liberating day. It was the day I embarked upon a new life and found there is life after headship. Mum and I have quality time together and enjoy each other’s company, especially when it involves vino, fizz and G&T. It worried you what would happen after you were no longer here with us. I promised you I’d look after Mum. Every time we have we raise it you and says cheers Dad. Mum says cheers darling heart. We miss you but talk with you daily.
My new role enables me to use the experiences, knowledge and skills I have learned over time with new teachers and aspiring leaders. When a first aid certificate expires a person doesn’t suddenly lose the ability to administer first aid. Similarly, just because I am no longer serving as a head in a school doesn’t mean I suddenly stop being a leader. I have discovered, sadly, there is a small group of people who were in and around my life during my time as a head teacher who no longer maintain any contact. It’s as though they were around for the status of Head teacher and not the person. However, I know I am not the one who has lost out. As I often say, those who mind, don’t matter. Those who matter, don’t mind.
On Saturday 6th October I get to spend the day without the most amazing group of people many of whom I am proud to say they are a great friend. #EduFootyAid takes place tomorrow with a fundraising football match between the nORRth and south raising money for Mind Charity for mental health. I know how much my grief has affected my mental health and still does daily. I also have the privilege of singing Nessun Dorma World Cup style tomorrow and then leading the supporters in the National Anthem. It’s a time for everyone to mind their minds and the minds of others.
I have a busy day ahead but Mum and I have a bottle of fizz chilling and will join you with a glass later today, Dad.
In the words of St Julian of Norwich shared at your funeral service celebrating your life, “All shall be well. And all shall be well. All manner of thing shall be well.”
Here’s to you, Dad.
With all my love,