I would like to share something precious; it is a letter I wrote in July last year. I want to share it because it is helping me now more than I could ever have imagined at the time. I think it might be helpful for other people too. It is not a sad thing, but something important and I think joyful; it is a letter to my dad.
My dear old dad died on 14 January 2017. He could not have been more loved and in his gentle and beautiful passing he loved us still more. He was a humble, unassuming soul, but someone who throughout my life quietly and steadfastly taught me so much about love, life and work. I owe him everything.
In July last year I wrote a letter to thank him for all he had done for me. I am so glad I did and it is a great comfort to me now that he knew these things before he died.
Indeed it is such a comfort to me now that if I may I would like to say to you, please, if you have a letter to write to someone in your life then you should write it. Write it while the person you love can read it and value it, and write it for your peace of mind too…
9 July 2016
I just wanted to say a few words about you.
In case you are thinking I must have decided that your time is up, I am not writing this because it is the end; I am writing because we never know for any of us when the end will come and right now I know that my biggest regret would be to read something like this at your funeral (assuming you go before me!) without you knowing it was how I felt about you.
It isn’t a note to tell you how much I love you. I hope you know that already. It is however a note about how you have made me a better man and how grateful I am for all the lessons you have shared with me.
I could write loads, but it might look like I was after a bigger inheritance! …so I will keep this as brief as I can without diminishing the enormity of what I owe to you.
Where to begin? Well first, I have never once felt unloved or unsupported by you. Through my good times and my dark times, you have never judged me, never criticised me and never “told me so”. I have only ever felt your warmth, your strength and your wish for me to be happy.
You have never left me doubting how proud you are of what I have done (or Poppy or Jon too). Your enjoyment of our successes, from school badges to career moves has been obvious and always said out loud. We know absolutely that you are so very proud of us. It is a reservoir of encouragement all by itself.
Your love, respect and admiration for mum is extraordinary. Not because she doesn’t deserve it, but because you live those thoughts every single day. We see it and feel it and it has become our example too, and we love you even more because of it.
You are the most selfless person I know. Nothing has ever been too much trouble; nothing has seemed to be an inconvenience for you, everything has been done with a smile and with love. Every single occasion you have done something for us, it has been done as if it was the most important thing for you too.
When we were children I know there were long periods when you did not have spare change, let alone savings for a rainy day. As I became older I saw some of the worry in your eyes. However not once did you share that worry with us; not once did you grumble or play the “hard luck” card.
I have also learnt from you that working really hard, being loyal and being committed to a job is a virtue. Pay is not the reward, but seeing the job done to the best of our ability is the true reward. I have seen you give time and care to small things. A craftsman paints even where no one will see because he knows he will not short-change his talent or his values. I love this about you dad and I will try to live up to your standards however faltering my efforts will be.
As you have grown old and you have struggled with pain and infirmity, I have still seen you take every last drop of thankfulness from the time you have with us and all the grandchildren. I don’t know how you do it, but even now you set the standard for being a dad.
You are such a very humble man, but you are also a quite extraordinary man. I know you will not recognise a word I have said, because these words are praising what you see as just what you do. I also know you will say nothing, except perhaps to give me a slightly tighter hug when I next say goodbye.
Well, my dear, dear old dad I would just like you to know that you are now, always have been and always will be my inspiration, my example and my guide. In the time we have left together in this world I want you to know these words are felt and thought every day. The world has far too few people like you, but your light shines more brightly as a result.
It will always be my privilege to be known as Brian’s son.
Take care. I love you.