So it’s your birthday today and your sprightly granddaughter toddler P loves birthdays. She’s well versed in singing and squealing it at the top of her voice to people and wants to blow candles out.
I told toddler P that it was your birthday today and she ran over to your picture and pointed at you. She shouted “happy birthday Poppa M” several times as she danced around the kitchen stamping her bare feet on the floor.
She knows who you are. She knows which pictures you are in on our walls and mantle piece. She knows you’re someone important and special to remember and she knows your name.
I just wish she knew you. I wish she’d met you, I wish she’d heard your strange blended accent of Yorkshire and Gujarati as you sang (badly) nursery rhymes that you didn’t know the words to. I wish she’d complained about your snoring loud like a bear. I wish she’d been able to have you lovingly and relentlessly teach her to walk, ride a bike and catch a ball. I wish you were still here.
You weren’t the best dad, lord knows you made some big mistakes in your life and weren’t this amazing wonderful person and you’ve taught me a lot about how to manage emotions and treat people or be treated. But you were also brilliant in so many other ways. You went through so much (probably the reason why you did a lot of what you did) and what you managed to still achieve despite adversity pushes me to be strong and get through anything everyday. I guess I understand why you sometimes acted and behaved in the ways you did and I appreciate life wasn’t easy for you, you didn’t have the best start. A friend once told me to write a book about your life, it wouldn’t half make a thrilling yet shocking read.
I’m proud to work at the same school as you and be a part of that community. I’m proud when I hear colleagues tell me that you were a kind man. You weren’t always the best but there was a kind heart in there deep down. And you loved us and you loved your grandkids. You loved family, you loved Christmas. You also loved red wine, dry roasted peanuts and quiches (why request that as your first meal each time you arrived back from India?!?). All these things I’ll also make sure toddler P knows.
I’ll make sure she knows my fond memories as well as learns lessons from the not so fond ones of you. I’ll tell her of you taking me to the top area of our street near daily so I could ride without my stabilisers on. I’ll make sure she knows how you showed me how to use cooked rice as glue on paper (it’s crap and doesn’t work). I’ll tell her of my frustration when you stole quavers from me in the back of the car after my Saturday morning dance classes. I’ll make sure she knows that you always told me to be confident, stand up for what’s right and to not let anyone hurt my feelings or knock my confidence and to stick with the people who make me feel good about myself.
You taught me to know my worth and believe in myself. There’s so much I want to share with you and I’m still so bloody cross that you didn’t take better care of yourself to be with us know. Now when I need you most. Now when I have a girl, a bright, sparkly, crazy girl who’d make you laugh everyday. But your not here, so I’ll drink some cheap crap red wine (why did you never buy the decent stuff you cheap skate) and toast your birthday and relax knowing I’m at least passing on your memory to toddler P.
She knows who you are, she points to your picture on the wall.