Today is Mother's Day but, coincidentally, this year it's fallen on the day the entire circumference of my heart is occupied with the other half of my reason for being on this earth right now, right this minute. For me it's also a reflective, significant and woeful day, for me it's the day I miss the presence of beaming smiles and infectious laughs and annoying teasing, for me it's the anniversary of losing my dad. Today marks 8 years since he gained angel status. Now, it doesn't mean I'm not going to celebrate the unconditional love, friendship, care and compassion my mum has given me since birth but it means there's an extra space to include the appreciation of two incredible humans who shaped me into the person I am today.
I don't need to proclaim my feelings or recurrently announce how much I mourn his precious spirit; that goes without saying (and if you've read my previous posts over the years you'll know just how emotional I can get). But what I feel I need to do, is keep my dad's memory alive. To remind the world what an extraordinary, brave human being he was and to use this retained detail to an advantage; to turn my sadness into powerfulness. This year I've decided to go one step ahead, to make a difference to others and to further contribute to the charity I've spent the past year or so supporting wholeheartedly.
You may have come across a mere mention of Once Upon A Smile in one of my blog posts from last summer but I don't think I can ever project just how fundamentally spectacular this charity is. On a personal level, it's important but as a whole it's more than crucially valuable to so many bereaved families who need that support to help them overcome their grief. If you'd like to read their entire story, you can do over on their main site but for me to keep it short I want to specifically pick out those individual aspects that build up to who they are and what they represent.
We all know memories are poignant, they're the pick me up when you're down, the nostalgic times to treasure and hold close to you but when you lose the person those memories include, then they take on a whole different meaning. They are the basis to carry on, to keep strong, to celebrate a beloved life and to look back on when you need to sense the sound of a voice or a certain moment or the ambience of character. Once Upon A Smile hold many groups and events within their all donation run foundation to ensure young children and beyond have this opportunity to honour a memory and release their sentiment and to me, that's so special, so helpful and so imperative. I'd give anything for one more day with my dad but to experience and explore the days you already have had, that's truly healing to the soul.
This year I've set up a Just Giving page in memory of my dad along with a short video that reflects back on my wonderful childhood. I was lucky enough to have a dad who wanted to document every single tender moment with his children and without those videos, I honestly think that hole in the pit of my existence wouldn't be as fulfilled as it is right now. They make me cry, they make me howl with laughter, they make me wish I could invent a time machine but most importantly, they allow me to remember. To raise money for a charity that allows families like mine to remember the light amongst the dark, I'd absolutely love for you to partake in your own memory mementos with both parents, as it is Mother's Day after-all. Whatever the age, whatever the collection, whatever the donation - every little matters.
Here's just eight of many memories created with both my darling mum and dad in mind to symbolise eight years without him:
- Going for breakfast. Every Saturday morning after we'd dropped my mum off at work. No matter what the weather or circumstance, my dad would always ensure he'd bundle us up in the car and drive off to the destination of paradise. To him, it was just a shop cafe, to us it was heaven and this is why he'd dedicate his quality time to the children he adored.
- Family holidays. I had the best childhood, I really did. Every year we'd jet off to somewhere hot and sunny and have a week to two weeks of nothing but fun. Forget tanning and relaxing, my dad left and gifted that to my mum who he believed deserved the rest. He'd be up and at em at the crack of dawn, tending to us through the positives and the negatives. Not just when we were throwing a tantrum but when we wanted to spend hours in the pool learning to swim, diving in and spinning around on inflatables. Every minute of the day my dad was by our side assuring we had the most enjoyment possible.
- Christmas. Another period where any trace of melancholy was always replaced with bubbly happiness. There was a set routine; dad would have the camera set up, mum would creep down the stairs with us to see if Santa had 'been' and the presents would be laid out in sacks with a designated side of the sofa for us both. You'd think after half an hour of ripping open many gifts and commenting on every single one my dad would grow tiresome but nope, that wasn't the case. If anything it enthused his energy, he'd be cracking jokes and exaggerating his excitement for every toy and pair of socks we'd wave in his face. Those are the moments I remember the most.
- Scooby Doo on the Playstation One. There's specific factors in life that stand out more than the other and this is one of them. I remember it like it was yesterday. We'd never been more appreciative of our new console and once dad had set it up, we all squashed up on a single bed to play Scooby Doo Cyber Chase, taking it in turns between mum, dad, my brother and I to make it fair. There was one particular level that neither of us could pass and I remember us trying with all our might for at least two hours. Our determination to not be defeated paid off in the end, though, and the celebration was epic.
- Dancing. I don't know what it was about our little feisty foursome but we did like a dance. Whether it was individually or together or paired off as two. As a toddler, dad would always be swinging me round, as we grew older we'd be up boogieing in the middle of the living room when some old school track on top of the pops played and even when he used to pay us a visit when he no longer lived at home, we'd always somehow get him dancing to some random song whilst my mum ushered him away from the TV because he was blocking the view.
- Car sing a longs. We liked a sing along, too. Dad was well into his music so when the tape deck was booming, so were we. It was best on a long journey or when he gave in to my pleading of non stop Vengaboys at full volume. Whether it was a trip to the zoo or to the local supermarket, it wasn't complete without some out of tune lyric reciting of Jamiroquai or Oasis.
- Bus rides. After dad stopped driving, we often had an eventful journey of bus rides to take us to our destination. I remember once he was being extra stupid (and he was pretty mad to start with so this was immaturity to the next level) we saw an old teacher of ours on the bus and were giggling as kids do. Dad made it ten times worse by drawing silly faces and words on the window from the condensation purposely increasing our laughter. Of course it's as bit non-amusing as it is non-interesting but it's nice when you can still look back and laugh on it in 2017.
- Painting faces on eggs. It's probably just as weird as you're imagining. It was one weekend when my mum was out on the lash with some of the girls, my dad had been left to look after both of us and our cousins so to say it was mad was an understatement. He was always keen to be on board with numerous activities and this time it was in the form of designing characters out of food produce with black marker pen. It kept us quiet and we ended up displaying our masterpieces in a show finale by the end of the night.
My mind is swimming with memories but now it's your turn to share. Get involved, leave a comment, or even speak them in private! Days like this can be so difficult for so many people who have lost a parent or a child so thank you so much in advance if you generously decide to dedicate a fraction of your day to such a worthy cause. 50p, 50 seconds, 50 bullet points - nothing is ever too much or too less!
Enjoy your day to the max and remember to both create and cherish those memories.