My dad is fab. Even when I was a teenager I generally thought he was pretty awesome (not the day I slammed my bedroom door and pulled it off its hinges after he’d annoyed me, or when he wound me up when it was the wrong time of the month, or when he asked me to wash up, but generally). Not in a daddy’s girl kind of way and not in a spending loads of quality time together way, just in a pretty cool, always dropping me off at places or picking me up, or both, kind of way. He wasn’t overly protective, but he cared enough to give up his time to make sure I was safe. We weren’t always chatting, but I’ve always felt like he is interested in me and would do pretty much anything for me.
When I was little I would try and snuggle up to him and although he’s not the most outwardly affectionate person (I guess most men of his generation aren’t) he would always let me. It normally ended up with him pretending to get me into a headlock or a knee death-grip or with me giving him Chinese burns or twisting his arm hair into “plaits” but it was always in good humour and only very occasionally ended in tears (mine. I would always – in his words – be overtired, the only possible reason for the tears). We’ve always teased each other and had stupid names for each other. He’s the one person who I can absolutely guarantee will make me smile and who I can always rely on to cheer me up. He can be grumpy, he can be unreasonable; he drives my mum mad when he won’t wear his hearing aid; but he’s laid back (until he’s pushed too far) and he’s happy to put himself out for people.
Interestingly, K is quite like him in lots of ways and I know it’s a cliche to say I’ve married a man just like my father but I actually think I have.
I’ve inherited some of his less admirable qualities – impatience, not suffering fools gladly, not liking to be made to feel stupid (no one likes that but we really take it seriously), long memories when we are wronged, fidgety, irritable when we’re tired.
What I hadn’t realised was how much my daughter was going to love my dad. T has always had a good relationship with Dad – first grandchild, we spent quite a bit of time with M&D when he was a baby and I was a fruitcake. Dad calls him Spider (the silly names still going on a generation later) and T loves chatting to him about technology, in particular the iPad that they both love, and school and stuff. But A, well she just adores him. Properly adores him. When she was in reception she was asked to draw pictures and write about someone important to her. Me? No, I’m necessary, not important. K? No, she loves him too but he’s just her dad. Grandad. Grandad was her favourite person and nearly six years later he still is. We were talking the other day and she said “Grandad’s my hero”. She didn’t expand, she didn’t need to. Not to me.
Today, we popped round to see them while T was busy with the Noise project. She sat on Grandad’s lap – well sprawled over him really – and snuggled up. And then the nose pulling started and the blowing raspberries (her, not him) so he retaliated and tickled. It was like watching a prettier version of my younger self with an older version of my younger dad. And it was beautiful. Grandad and his little Chicken.