Father’s Day in Spain is on 19th March, and it started me thinking and remembering my dad.
When I was young, he used to sit me on his lap and regale me with stories of pirates. These pirates always lived, or “worked”, in Mevagissey or Timbuktu. To me, these places were the other side of the world, magical, exotic countries, full of brigantines, pirates with peg legs and parrots. I was surprised when I grew up to find that Mevagissey is a village in Cornwall, in the southwest of England and Timbuktu is a city in Mali.
Another memory from when I was small was of massaging my dad’s head. The males in the paternal side of my family all suffer from premature baldness. I used to sit on the arm of the sofa and my father would turn sideways and close his eyes in sheer delight as I gently rotated my hands.
When grown up and both widowed, we used to meet once a month for a pub lunch, taking it in turns to decide the venue. Then the fun would start! For neither the name of the pub or the village would be given, just a cryptic clue. An example would be for the “Three Crowns” at Chagford that would take him 36 minutes to get to, his clue would be
“You would need 3 royals at C within 40 minutes”.
I also went on holiday with him, to the Canary Islands and once on a cruise, to Portugal, Madeira and The Canaries. He loved dressing up smartly and really enjoyed being able to wear a dinner jacket on the cruise. Even when casual though, he was always aware of his appearance, and perhaps a little vain.
It was, therefore, doubly hurtful to see his character slipping away, as dementia and Alzheimer’s took hold. When I went to visit him, seeing him in jogging bottoms and a t-shirt, I was never his daughter, more often he called me Marge, my mum, or I was his sister. Once I was even his mother! Speaking to the doctor I explained that I was planning to move to Spain, and should I delay my departure? Their best recommendation was to go as planned, as there was no reason to believe he would not go on for a year or so.
The day before I left for Spain, I went to see him. Bending down I gave him a kiss on the cheek and with tears in my eyes I said, “Dad, I am moving to Spain”. He patted my hand, smiled at me and said “Christine, I always knew you would”