On Sunday it was Father's Day and it was also exactly ten years since my Dad died.
I can't believe I have lived a whole decade on this earth without him, as it just doesn't seem possible. I still haven't really got used to the idea that he isn't around. I often find myself thinking that I must tell him of a funny event that I know he would appreciate and then suddenly remember that he just isn't here to tell. He was so wise and I used to ask him for advice all the time. Even now, I feel lost when I realise he isn't around to double check something with.
I was always his princess. There is something special about growing up knowing that you are so adored. It's probably what gave me such confidence even when at the same time, I lived with the fear/threat that my mother could withdraw her love from me at any time if I didn't do what I was supposed to do. He knew that and although it was never mentioned, he made up for it by always being there for me and comforting me whenever she shouted at me. He never undermined her - he just let me know that he would make everything all right.
One of my favourite photos is one of him with me when I was a tiny baby. It was taken in the garden and I am on a mat on the the grass and he is lying next to me on his side completely absorbed by me smiling up at him. The complete love, awe and wonder in his face is unmistakeable and after he died, I couldn't stop looking at it.
We did a lot of things together when I was young. We often went cycling down to the park to feed the ducks or we played chess or tennis. But most of all we talked. I used to love telling him things as I would make a big dramatic story of everything complete with different voices and accents. I could always make him laugh even while he was rolling his eyes and begging me to please, get to the point.
I remember once, when I was a teenager and very angry with mum and determined to make her suffer, I decided I wouldn't eat anything. It didn't bother her and just made her shout at me all the more but I kept it up for a good few days. And then Dad came into my room where I was sulking and asked me if I would please come down and eat because he had cooked dinner. I said no and complained bitterly about how wrong Mum was. He said he would sort things out but please would I come down as I needed to eat. I refused again and bless him, his eyes filled with tears and he told me that he was worried about me and that not eating wasn't the answer and that he was concerned that I was already losing weight and would I eat something, just for him. Looking back, there must have been something else going on for him to have been so emotional as he wasn't really that sort of man but I couldn't bear seeing him so upset. I hugged him really tightly and told him it would all be OK and then went down and stuffed my face, just to make him happy.
I only ever wanted his approval and so tried never to behave in a way that could let him down. God knows what he would think of me now, if he knew about Matt. Even the thought of it makes me feel vaguely sick.
Perhaps he can see me, I don't know. After he died, I noticed a very bright star in the sky clearly visible from our bedroom. I told Ewan that I was convinced it was Dad and that unnerved him considerably - said he didn't want to think my dad could see what he was doing to his daughter !
Actually my dad liked Ewan a lot. It was surprising how friendly Dad was with him as up until then he would barely speak to my boyfriends. On our wedding day, after Mum and the bridesmaids and everyone else had left the house it was just me and Dad for a few quiet moments. He told me he had never seen me look so beautiful and that he was so proud of me. It took all my strength not to cry and ruin my heavily mascara'd eyes !!
He had a massive heart attack about a year after my wedding. It was touch and go for a while but he pulled through. After that though he was a different man - still wonderful but very frail and careful and much more spiritual. I think it was my children that kept him going for so long after that. He was the perfect grandad and I still spend a lot of time watching the home videos of them climbing all over him and him singing them songs and making them laugh. They both remember him and how he always had sweets for them.
Ten years ago, out of the blue, he had another huge attack and died later in hospital. I got there in time but he was already unconscious and on life support. I watched as he slipped away, holding tightly on to his hand, listening to my mother wailing away but making sure my own tears were silent and dignified, just as he would have wanted.
God, I miss him. I really miss him. I was privileged to have him as a father but I feel overwhelmed with grief all over again as I realise he really is gone and whatever anyone promised me, it hasn't got any easier over the years.