I have written about him before. He is often on my mind, even 25 years after his death. I cannot put on my shoes in the morn without hearing him say "do ye want me to polish them properly for ya?"
Everytime I look at my face in the shaving mirror, I see him shaving his face, though having inherited Ma's family's features I look nothing like him.
It was he, and not the Ma, who taught me how to iron a shirt properly, how to press a suit, and how to get the pleats in my kilt just right! (It takes a long time to iron a kilt, stitch all the pleats together, and only take out the stitching just before a competition!)
He taught me how to knot a tie, how to wear a tie, when to wear a tie, when it was acceptable not to wear a tie. (I have a VAST collection of ties, still collect them.)
And yet, we were never that close. He was, as some people might say, very English! Very 'stiff upper lip', though you couldn't get a more patriotic Irish man! He was never one for hugging, kissing or cuddling. Never one for a slap on the back. But we knew he loved us. And though Ma was never affeared of givin' us a good slap, Da never once raised his hand in anger to us. And Ma would use this to her advantage. "Do ye want me to tell yer father how bold ye've been, do ye want him to slap ye?" (He never did!)
Da would have a pint every night on the way home from work, in Mr. Halpin's bar.
Mr. Halpin would give working men ONLY one pint each working night. He would then send them home to their families.
But on a Friday he would give them one pint, tell them go home with their wages, and come back for a few more if their wives would let them! There are not many Mr. Halpins around these days!
Da always stopped off at Monica's shop of a Friday, for the 'Bag Of Sweets'!
The bag was different every Friday, but one of us always had to answer a question to get the prize 'CRUNCHIE' each week! It didn't really matter 'cos all the 'sweets' were a treat for us!
I often wonder what memories my girls will have of me. I know I spend a lot of time with them, more time, I know, than my own Da was privileged to have with me. And I am priviliged to be in a position, because of my job, to spend so much time with them.
My Da was a 'worker' in the old fashioned sense. He got up early each day, worked a labouring slog, and was proud to do so to provide for his family. I know my lifestyle is so different from Da's, but I like to think I am carrying on his tradition.
I love you Dada, and I miss you every day.