11 July 2007

Wednesday

At least it's not raining. Frances is away in Ibiza for a week, following completion of her A level exams. She worked so hard and deserves the end reward of a university place - reading American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham. We will be so proud if she makes it. I think the Canadian bit is covered in an afternoon!

Ian is so well-settled in the new house that we hardly see him. It's about a mile and a half from where we live. By all accounts the house has already become a magnet for his many mates. But me and Shirley, we are feeling a certain emptiness. It's a premonition of things to come.

Up until this point in time we have been blessed with a happy family life - meals round the table, barbecues, some crises to get through, pets, never-ending conversation and companionship, a long list of lovely holidays - camping in France, the summer in Italy, trips to Ireland, all the Balearic Islands, Greece, Portugal, three times in America, cottages with open fires and coastal caravans. It has been wonderful and it began in August 1984 when Ian was born. So we have had twenty three years of busy family life - little time to rest on your haunches or feel sorry for yourself. We have been simply... living.

Now what? I guess many people have been through this sense of emptiness - as if your main mission in life - to raise a family - is almost through. Sure, Ian will continue to need support with his house and financial affairs and Frances will come home during university holidaytime but it's never going to be quite the same again.

Where is the little girl in her red wellington boots, wrestling with the hosepipe on a hot summer's evening? And where is the boy who yelled one Christmas morning - "...He's been! HE'S BEEN!"...the same boy I taught to ride a bike and with whom I scaled Ben Nevis. And where is the girl who blew out the candles and weirdly wrote her name in perfect mirror image script?

But you know, the thing was, I always knew such a day would come and I knew the trick was to love and live each day because this joy wouldn't last forever. I remember weeping one afternoon when Frances was four and Ian was eight. I had taken them to the post office to post their paintings for a "Blue Peter" TV competition. They were holding my hands and laughing. I saw our combined shadows on the pavement - moving as one and I had this overwhelming and grievous realisation that this ordinary moment was exceptional and that one day I would look back on it as a symbolically happy picture of my fatherhood and no matter what I tried I just couldn't hang on to the physical reality of the moment forever... only the memory.

You see... as well as being hard as nails... Yorkshiremen can also be bloody soft too!

10 comments:

  1. Yes, it all goes by so fast!
    Nice photo - didn't know you wore glasses, YP, or that you were around in 'black and white' days! ;)

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  2. do l see this in writing '..Yorkshire men can be soft too'? Wow. but yes, kids do grow up, it's nice to be able to discuss politics, life, music the 'olden days' as they grow up in age & experience. It's great to have them work alongside you. makes you almost proud. the only downer is that you realise you ain't getting any younger!

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  3. Poignant, YP.

    I bet you're a great dad.

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  4. You poor old empty nester.

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  5. I feel ya. My kids left way too soon. Hum.. post idea. thanks Pudding man.

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  6. Dude. You made me cry. And use the word "dude". I'll keep this post in mind each time I think I can't wait for mine to split the nest...

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  7. YP darling, if you miss having children around have you considered adoption? Forwarding photos of Milly and Tilly under seperate cover for your consideration...

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  8. are you a teacher? my dad used to be teach physics. it was his second calling as his first choice - to be the first italian astronaut into space - never quite materialised.

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  9. JENNYTA - The photo was only used for illustrative purposes as you well know you cheeky minx!
    MUDDYBOOTS - I guess you have come across a number of "soft" Yorkshiremen apologising for their softness!
    M&M - A "great dad"? Maybe. I just did it all instinctively with a "great mum" by my side.
    MOPSA - Well not quite empty but flying off for worms and other titbits is no longer necessary.
    BY GEORGE - I can see you have been there.
    RILLY - Milly and Tilly are far too silly but you can look after my Willy if your are on the Pilly!
    MAXXO - I wanted to be the singer for a great rock and roll band but like your father had to settle for teaching as a second choice but in my head I'm still strutting that stage and fending off over-eager groupies.

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  10. Lovely post - but you missed out the bit about the squabbling round the kitchen table - or is that just when you have four? Rapidly becoming empty nest here too.

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