Her dad is eight seven and no longer in the best of health : there is no choice, he must go to a home. His daughter is worried for him but preoccupied with work and battling through the grind of middle age. She has her own family now and always puts them first just as her dad encouraged her to do: he’s never one for demanding your attention but somehow she must find the time to order his affairs.
Her father now lives a guest in his own life, smiling at a world he cannot influence and struggles to understand. He used to dance he tells the nurse as she settles him in bed. She smiles kindly in a busy way:pleasant but unmoved: she’s heard it all before, ( These old boys do go on.) She turns away and moves towards the door. He cannot work the remote, so she moves to explain it to him and then hurries on her way.
The daughter walks into the house he called his home. Not where she grew up but still with objects she knows well: that crazy plastic parrot sitting on a branch; the cupboard filled with china from God knows when, the photographs of course, she always looks at those. Here they are , she with her mum and dad, sitting on the beach: she eating her ice cream. He always wore a hat regardless of the place.
She smiles at last and looks around the room. Just by the door is where his old desk sits. What is in there”? She opens a drawer and peers at what’s inside and sees a pile of letters, yellowed with passing time, and held together with some old ribbon, red and frayed. Not really knowing why she picks them up and takes a letter from the pile. It’s dated 1942 while he was on the front, fighting for his country somewhere far away: he’s never talked about it . She removes the letter from the envelope and reads,
It’s bloody hot out here. We on the move tomorrow. Some big push. That’s all I know. God knows what will happen, but if I don’t make it through always know how much I loved you. It made me proud to have you in my life, and your photograph is always with me. Be happy and, if I don’t get back, just get on with it as you always do. Somewhere up there will be a star. It’s me twinkling and smiling down on you.
All my special love, Harold xxx”.
His daughter felt her eyelids fill with tears: her Dad always made time for others but not himself. Without knowing why she climbed into her car and drove to see him, Entering the room she sees him lying there, propped up in bed and patient with his lot. Sitting down she moves to hold his hand. “I love you dad. I’ve loved you all my life”. “I know you silly fool. ” he says and smiles.